Walking Distracted Thanks to Tech: Or, Th— LOOK OUT!

Walking Distracted Thanks to Tech: Or, Th— LOOK OUT!

Walking Distracted

Those of you who are longtime readers know the saga of my most recent walking injury (saga here). When it happened, I consoled myself with the knowledge that it was an accident, the result of a perfect storm of uneven terrain and the actions of two huge and incredibly exuberant dogs.  Now that I’m recovered, I realize I’ve been made very aware of how quickly something can go wrong while just walking around. Sometimes I’m even upset by the actions of other pedestrians I see, texting or otherwise interacting with personal tech when they should be watching where they’re going! “Don’t they know that’s a bad idea?!”  I think, mentally shaking my fist at someone so absorbed in Twitter they nearly strolled straight into a lamppost after crossing a busy intersection without even looking. The thing is — says a new study on distracted walking — they may not; or, if they do, they more readily acknowledge the maddening behaviour in others before themselves.

The study was done by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (the folks who have to clean up after you when you text yourself off a curb), and pulled statistics on self-reported and observed incidents in major American urban centres.  Participants said they have witnessed various acts of distracted walking at a higher rate (an average of 40% higher) than they felt they themselves committed. Participants were also divided generationally in their belief of how serious distracted walking is: 81% of those older than 35 were convinced, compared to 70% of Millennials. (Millennials were also more inclined to think distracted walking mishaps to be “funny” and “embarrassing,” the whippersnappers.) Still, both rates are comparatively high – so why do we still do it?

“One of challenges in combatting distracted walking may be that Americans are overly confident in their ability to multitask. When asked why they walk distracted, 48 percent of respondents say ‘they just don’t think about it,’ 28 percent feel ‘they can walk and do other things,’ and 22 percent ‘are busy and want to use their time productively.’
Among distracted walking behaviors, 75 percent of respondents say they themselves ‘usually/always’ or ‘sometimes’ have ‘active conversations’ with another person they are walking with, making this the most common distracted walking behavior people admit to doing themselves.”

So, over-confidence and friendliness will result in broken bones…  Kidding!:  We just need to keep consequences in mind when we deal with our devices on the go.  Distraction can result in a tumble, and, in my experience a tumble can mean trouble. Dear readers, as the sidewalks begin to ice over and our lives get busier – do be careful out there!