Pedestrians Blame Others for Distraction-Related Injuries

Woman texting on a smartphone while walkingDrivers are not the only ones commonly distracted by their phones, new research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests.

A 2013 study found emergency room visits involving pedestrians distracted by their phones doubled between 2004 and 2010. Yet most pedestrians report distraction among other pedestrians is the real problem. Few admit to their own distraction.

Pedestrians in Denial About Distracted Walking

The online survey polled 2,008 American adults about the extent of their distraction in everyday life. Almost all (93%) said they were “very good” or “pretty good” at multitasking—contrary to research suggesting multitasking is difficult or impossible.

Additionally, 78% reported distracted walking as a serious issue, but just 29% said they were often distracted. Twenty-six percent said they had been involved in a distracted walking incident. These incidents range from minor incidents, such as running into things, to more serious ones, such as breaking bones.

Though respondents were unwilling to acknowledge their own distraction and often believed they could do two things at once, they were quick to criticize the distraction of other pedestrians. Eighty-five percent said other pedestrians were distracted by their smartphones.

The Dangers of Distracted Walking

A 2012 study by researchers at Stony Brook University supports the notion that distracted walking poses real dangers. Participants using smartphones veered from course 61% more frequently than undistracted pedestrians. Researchers found texting while walking was more dangerous than talking on a phone while walking. Walking while looking at a phone reduced situational awareness and increased the frequency of unsafe decisions. Participants also overshot their location 13% more frequently when they texted while walking.

Another study found cell phone-related pedestrian injuries were most common among people ages 16-25.


  1. Distracted walking study: Topline summary findings [PDF]. (2015). Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  2. Hamilton, J. (2008, October 9). Think you’re multitasking? Think again. Retrieved from
  3. Mole, B. (2015, December 5). People are in denial about using devices while walking and being bad at it. Retrieved from
  4. Robinson, M. (2014, February 26). Think it’s safe to type a quick text while walking? Guess again. Retrieved from
  5. Solnik, C. (2012, January 19). Stony Brook study warns of texting while walking. Retrieved from

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  • Laken

    December 8th, 2015 at 7:41 AM

    Oh please! People are barreling down the street looking at their phones and paying absolutely no attention to what they are doing. I like to just walk right into them and then they act like they want to say something mean to me, but hey, I then remind them that if they had been looking where they were going then it wouldn’t have happened. Just my own little passive aggressive way of teaching them a little life lesson.

  • sherri b

    December 9th, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    in the end aren’t all of us simply looking for someone to take the blame?

  • Parth

    December 10th, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    Geesh distracted driving, distracted walking…
    can’t we all put down our phones for even just a little bit to get from points A to B?

  • Ramon

    December 11th, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Just the other day I had a lady come barging past me, sort of out of tune with everything going on around her because of a fierce conversation she was having on the phone. Now none of us were hurt if only by her rudeness but I would have hated to see how this would have escalated had she been driving a car. Or if she had not paid attention to automobile traffic.

  • Creighton

    December 13th, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    You do have to sort of admit that we have all been this person right?
    I mean, we all get so involved in what we are doing in the moment that we lose sight of what is going on around us.
    Ok so not the healthiest of habits, but it could help if we would all just commit to looking out for one another sometimes.

  • Bess

    December 14th, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    Just try to let them think that they are going to blame me for their own neglect. Right then and three I would let them know that they are messing with the wrong person!

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