At Work At Home On the Road
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Distracted walking injuries on the rise; 52 percent occur at home

Most injuries affect women, people ages 40 and younger

Itasca, IL – Fifty-two percent of distracted walking incidents involving cell phones happen at home – not adjacent to roadways, as many may believe, according to a recent study. [i] Sixty-eight percent of those injured are women, and 54 percent are people ages 40 or younger. Distracted walking injuries involving cell phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011[ii], making it a significant safety threat. The trend is so alarming that it was included for the first time in the annual National Safety Council statistical report, Injury Facts®, which tracks data around the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths.

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Unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the primary focus of National Safety Month, observed each June.

"Whether we are in the car or on foot, it is important to be aware of our surroundings, even if they are familiar," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "More than half of all unintentional injuries each year happen at home, so don't take your safety for granted.  No call, text or update is worth an injury."

While cell phone distracted walking injuries were most common among women and those ages 40 and younger, the study found the issue is impacting all age groups. Twenty-one percent of those injured were 71 and older. Talking on the phone accounted for 62 percent of injuries, the most common of which were dislocation or fracture, sprains or strains and concussions. Nearly 80 percent of the injuries were due to a fall.

The rise in cell phone distracted walking injuries parallels the eight-fold increase in cell phone use in the last 15 years. It is just as important to walk cell free as it is to drive cell free. Pedestrians and drivers using cell phones are both impaired and too mentally distracted to fully focus on their surroundings[iii] [iv]. For pedestrians, this distraction can cause them to trip, cross roads unsafely or walk into motionless objects such as street signs, doors or walls.

About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

[i] Smith, D.C., Schreiber, K.M., Saltos, A., Lichenstein, S.B., & Lichenstein, R. (2013, December). Ambulatory cell phone injuries in the United States— An emerging national concern. Journal of Safety Research, 47, 19-23. Study examined by National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) emergency department

[ii] Smith, D.C., Schreiber, K.M., Saltos, A., Lichenstein, S.B., & Lichenstein, R. (2013, December). Ambulatory cell phone injuries in the United States— An emerging national concern. Journal of Safety Research, 47, 19-23. Study examined by National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) emergency department

[iii] NSC white paper, Understanding the distracted brain

[iv] Nasar, J., Hecht, P., Wener, R. (2007, April). Mobile telephones, distracted attention and pedestrian safety. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 40, 69-75. 

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