COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – At a time where much focus is on the dangers of texting and driving, researchers have another warning about cell phone usage.
“When you start to see that drivers were distracted and having accidents, it seemed like it would apply to pedestrians, as well,” said Jack Nasar, professor emeritus in The Ohio State University’s City and Regional Planning Department.
Nasar was the first researcher to publish a study on the impacts of cell phones on pedestrians.
According to his work, the number of pedestrian injuries due to cell phones during a seven year period (2004-2010), nearly tripled. Nasar said that number continues to rise.
Currently, Nasar is studying the number of pedestrians who use cell phones while walking. Data is being collected in New York, Philadelphia and Columbus. While incomplete, Nasar said preliminary data indicates one in every three pedestrians operates their phone while walking.
“They [pedestrians] are putting themselves at risk for injury or death,” he said. “We’ve seen stories of people getting hit by trucks, cars and trains while they’re talking on a cell phone.”
According to a Columbus Fire Department spokeswoman, no statistics are available on the number of runs made due to cell phone related injuries.
It is likely that the actual number of injuries related to cell phone use while walking is much higher, according to Ohio State’s website. Data available for this study were limited to emergency room visits and, therefore, were unable to measure injuries to individuals who, for numerous reasons, did not go to an emergency room for treatment.