Officials fear that those who text and email while walking may be putting themselves in danger, says the Wilmington (DE) News-Journal. This spring, a woman walked off a pier and fell into an Indiana river while texting. While texting his boss that he’d be late, a California man nearly walked into a 400-pound black bear on a sidewalk last month. Fort Lee, N.J., officers began issuing $85 fines for “careless walking” this spring.
“When people are talking on cellphones, texting or even listening to music, unfortunately, they’re not as aware of what’s going on around them,” said Newark Police Lt. Mark Farrall, whose department often investigates pedestrian collisions each year, including a fatality April 30. Studies show texting while walking can reduce one’s gait and interfere with memory recall of one’s destination, causing a pedestrian to veer off a straight path. Stories of distracted walkers tripping into shopping-mall fountains are good for a chuckle, but safety and police officials aren’t as quick to laugh. Ohio State University researchers reported that cellphone use by pedestrians led to more than 1,000 emergency-room visits nationwide in 2008.