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Using a cellphone actually changes the way pedestrians walk

Increasingly, people around the world are glued to their cellphones, even when they're crossing the street and should be watching for vehicles and other potential dangers. A recent study conducted in England found that using a cellphone, whether to read, talk or text, actually changes the way a person walks.

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Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University placed eye trackers and motion analysis sensors on people. They then compared the results between those using a cellphone while walking and those who didn't.

Not surprisingly, pedestrians using a phone were less aware of obstacles, even when they were directly in front of them. However, they also found that using a cellphone actually changes the way a person walks. Subjects used "a cautious and exaggerated stepping strategy," moving more slowly and raising their feet higher.

It's not surprising, given these results, that over three-quarters of U.S. cellphone-related injuries serious enough to require emergency care between 2000 and 2011 were caused by people falling.

The lead author of the Anglia Ruskin study said, "Accidents are likely to be the result of objects suddenly appearing that phone users were not aware of, for example other pedestrians or vehicles," When the object is a vehicle, the results can be deadly.

China has found an interesting solution to try to protect pedestrians who can't put their phones down. They've created separate "cellphone lanes" for those pedestrians using their phones. Some European counties have started painting warnings directly on the roads to remind pedestrians of vehicles and tracks nearby.

If you're struck by a vehicle while walking, the injuries can be severe, if not fatal. Even when pedestrian carelessness and distraction was partly responsible for a crash, that doesn't mean that they and their families forfeit the right to seek compensation via civil litigation. However, pedestrian actions may be considered when a judge or jury is determining the award. That's why it's essential to have an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney in your corner.

Source: Newsweek, "Texting while walking is causing people to hurt themselves," Josh Lowe, accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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