Distracted walking dangers

FRESNO, Calif.

But there's another risky behavior with cell phones that can be hazardous to your health as well: distracted walking. And Consumer Reports says it's a growing problem.

In a just-released nationwide poll, Consumer Reports found that 85 percent of Americans had recently seen someone use a mobile device to talk, text, e-mail, or use apps while walking. Of those who had witnessed such behavior, 52 percent said the pedestrians endangered themselves or others.

The numbers are hard to pin down, but injuries occurring while pedestrians are using a mobile device appear to be going up.

A project by a former Ohio State University graduate student estimates that injuries of nonmotorized people, mostly pedestrians, distracted by cell phones are increasing by more than 180 a year.

After reading about several fatalities in her area that authorities suggest were related to distracted walking, Audrey Cole says she won't text and walk at all anymore.

"I don't think it matters where you live or what your town is like, I just think that a pedestrian in today's times must be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. And it's foolish to not be looking up.

Now Audrey does what Consumer Reports suggests. She acts like a driver, pulling over to answer a call or text.

Authorities in some cities are starting to crack down on distracted walkers, giving tickets to pedestrians who walk and talk or walk and text. In Utah, for example, crossing train tracks while talking or texting on a cell phone could earn you a $50 fine.

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