Dangerous distractions: Texting and walking injuries on the rise
Reporter: Rikki Mitchell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Videos of people distracted on their cell phones have generated millions of views on YouTube.
Like the video of a woman falling into a mall fountain while texting. Or the man who almost ran into a bear while looking at his phone.
And while many find these videos entertaining, distracted walking is no laughing matter, and almost everyone does it.
"I usually have my music on my phone," says University of Arizona Student Abdullah Tamimi. "And if I'm not checking my phone for texts, sometimes I have my laptop in my hands too."
Texting while walking can be just as dangerous as texting and driving, according to Daniel Judkins, a trauma educator at University of Arizona Medical Center.
"When you're texting, you just zone out," says Judkins. "And if you're trying to cross Speedway [Boulevard] or some other hazardous activity and texting, boy, you can really be in trouble really quick."
While watching students cross Speedway Boulevard, Judkins couldn't believe how many of them had headphones, or were looking at their phones.
"It's a pretty dangerous thing to do," he says.
According to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, more than 1,100 people went to the emergency room last year for injuries caused when walking and using an electronic device.
Emergency room numbers show that injuries from distracted walking have quadrupled in the past seven years.
And that's likely a low estimate. Judkins says many people won't admit that a cell phone was involved because they are embarrassed.
While YouTube videos show extreme examples of this danger, like one man who fell off a train platform while on his phone, even Nine On Your Side viewers have run into trouble.
Christina says she "almost stepped on a rattlesnake while texting."
And Mari writes "I was walking out my front door, got a text, stepped half off the sidewalk and pulled my ankle out of the socket...needless to say, I ignore my phone now until I have time to stop and focus!"
Several states have tried passing bills banning cell phone use while walking on city streets, but so far, none have passed.