Information Addiction

‘Distracted Walking': Smartphones Are Now Sending Us to the Emergency Room

Style section story on "wexting" slated for 2013.
young smeagol Distracted Walking: Smartphones Are Now Sending Us to the Emergency Room

(Photo: LOTR.wikia)

Look up from your smartphone. What do you see? If it’s any random street in New York, chances are it’s other people, fondling their cellphones like they’re Gollum and its The Ring. Recently a friend suggested a new rule: Let’s at least put it away while we’re crossing an intersection? But even that simple restriction has proven difficult to follow. If the traffic light countdown shows more than 10 seconds, the device somehow slides out of our pocket and back into our grubby hand. My precioussss.

America’s emergency rooms are littered with FOMO-eyed¬†fools like us. Here, let the Associated Press scare you straight.

The wire service says that in the past seven years, ER reports of “distracted walkers” seeking treatment has more than quadrupled, and that’s “almost certainly underreported.” The Consumer Product Safety Commission found 1,152 Emergency Room patients willing to admit they were there for “injuries suffered while walking and using a cellphone or some other electronic device”:

The cases include a 24-year-old woman who walked into a telephone pole while texting; a 28-year-old man who was walking along a road when he fell into a ditch while talking on a cell phone; a 12-year-old boy who was looking at a video game when he was clipped by a pickup truck as he crossed the street; and a 53-year-old woman who fell off a curb while texting and lacerated her face.

And that doesn’t even include fountain lady.

In response to our collective lack of self-control, state and local officials are wondering how far they should intervene. A “distracted walking” bill stalled out in New York. But if other unhealthy obsessions are any indication, you better start looking up before Bloomberg takes away our cellphone privileges.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com