When you walk through the streets of Manhattan, do you ever notice the people around you? Do we ever take the time to lift our heads and our noses up from our phones and just really see the people or the buildings?
I will admit that on days when I am stressed out or feeling insecure, I will walk with my eyes glued to the screen of my phone, but I do my best to keep foot traffic flowing and avoid bumping into strangers. No one is perfect.
During my brief walk from Bryant Park on 42nd to the Fred E. French Building on 45th, I noticed that everyone walking next to or in front of me was staring down at the screen of their cell phone or behind the viewfinder of a camera. A young girl was moving at such a pace that she tripped into a woman because she never looked up – not once. She never thought to take her eyes off the screen and stop texting to check to see if someone was in front of her.
Texting while walking really grinds my gears. I cannot stand being stuck behind someone who is moving at a snails pace because she has her nose in her phone. In this digital age, it is so important that you look up and take in the sights once in a while. Not only is it rude, but it is actually dangerous! The New York Times, the Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, USA Today... the list goes on. These major journalistic outlets have studied this exact topic and have shown just how dangerous this nasty habit is. Take a look at this video:
In Gait & Posture, Eric Lambert found that texting while walking produces navigational errors and that gait velocity is reduced when using a cell phone to text or talk. (2012) When you are looking down, you are limiting what can be seen around your person. You develop multiple blind spots, whereas there would only be one if you walked with your head up and watching for danger. Basically, walking and texting is like you are wearing a blindfold and you are prone to serious injuries. According to the NSC (National Safety Council), between 2000 and 2011, walking while using your cell phone accounted for 11,100 injuries.
There is also the courtesy factor.
It is completely inconsiderate of texters to come to a complete stop in the middle of a busy NYC sidewalk, staircase, or entry-way. Blocking foot traffic in Manhattan is a dangerous all by itself, but then you factor in that people are not even noticing that bodies are moving towards them!
What’s the considerate or proper technique you may ask. Well, you should really pull over to the side of the sidewalk, complete your text, Google searches or whatever you need to look down and view and then proceed down the street. Practicing pedestrian etiquette will allow for others to continue walking without obstruction and will lower pedestrian accident rates.
“Petextrian” accidents have risen to more than 3.5 percent, according to a report by the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association). Teenagers make up more than 40% of these accidents because they cross streets while texting and cannot detect the oncoming dangers while being distracted by mobile devices. Of course, driving while distracted or impaired will ALWAYS be the number one cause for accidents, texting while walking is a menace to pedestrians just trying to make it to the end of the next block.
Please, next time you are out, do me a favor – pick your head up and notice the world around you. Notice the world outside of the cell phone!