Australian research confirms that people who walk and text on their phones tend to slow down and swerve.
“Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance,” says Siobhan Schabrun at the University of Queensland.
“This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time.”
Dr Siobhan and her colleagues published their world-first study in the journal PLOS ONE.
Until now, there’s been little science done on how sending text messages impacts the lives of the three-quarters of the world’s population who own a mobile phone.
The Queensland scientists studied 26 people as they walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of approximately 8.5 meters.
They were told to do one of three things: walk without a phone, reading text on a mobile phone or typing text on a mobile phone.
The body’s journey was evaluated using a three-dimensional movement analysis system.
In comparison with normal walking, when participants were writing text, they walked slower, deviated more from a straight line and moved their neck less than when reading text.
Although the arms and head moved with the chest to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head increased, which could negatively impact the balance system.
Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.
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