Clumsy Kiwis have fallen into gutters, crashed into trees and
collided with other people while texting and walking.
Figures released by the Accident Compensation Corporation
showed 35 accidents last year resulting in injuries involved
people texting on cellphones - up from 22 in 2009.
But Stephanie Melville of ACC said the numbers could be much
higher because the organisation relies on details given by
the injured person after the accident.
The figures come as new research from Australian scientists
shows that texting while walking slows down movement,
decreases spatial awareness and increases the likelihood of
being injured or hit by cars.
Examples of ACC claims involving walking while texting
include, "Walked into lamp-post while texting on phone and
injured my face" and "texting while walking, walked into
another person and tripped over, hit face on concrete floor".
In one case, a person was injured while running and texting,
another was "texting and walking, hit head and neck on an
open window edge".
The scientists from the University of Queensland say texting
- and to a lesser extent reading content such as emails -
modifies movement while walking.
In comparison with normal walking, when the study's
participants texted, they walked more slowly, deviated more
from a straight line and moved their neck less.
One of the study's authors, Dr Siobhan Schabrun, said the
research showed that in a pedestrian environment the
inability of texters to maintain their balance or walk in a
straight path "may impact the safety of people who text and
walk at the same time".
The study in the scientific journal PLOS One said the dangers
of texting while driving had received much interest but
attention had only recently shifted to safety risks linked to
texting and walking.
It showed people who texted crossing the street in a virtual
pedestrian environment were more likely to be distracted and
suffered more hits by motor vehicles.
It also found that using the email function on a cellphone
reduces gait velocity, stride length and stance phase.
"These findings, coupled with a sharp increase in the number
of pedestrians injured while talking or texting on a mobile
phone since 2006, have led to bans on texting while walking
in some towns in the United States."
Accidents 'involving texting'
Accident Compensation Corporation
- James Ihaka of the New Zealand Herald