A new study says that distracted walkers, or "digital deadwalkers," are on the rise around us. Maybe you are one? Maybe you aren't ready to admit you are? The study, released by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), finds that 78% of U.S. adults believe that distracted walking is a “serious” issue, and only 29% believe they are part of the problem.
Some more numbers from the survey:
- 90 percent say they see walkers talking on the phone (and 37 percent admit doing so themselves)
- 88 percent are engaging in conversation (vs. 75 percent themselves)
- 88 percent are listening to music (vs. 34 percent themselves)
- 85 percent are using a smartphone (vs. 28 percent themselves)
- 64 percent are generally “zoning out,” or not focused on walking (vs. 38 percent themselves)
- 31 percent say distracted walking is “something I’m likely to do"
- 22 percent think distracted walking is “funny”
This isn't just an annoyance—like when you are stuck behind someone who is sloppily sidewalk slaloming like a drunk child who just woke up from a nap—it's also dangerous. Alan Hilibrand, MD, AAOS spokesperson, referenced a 2013 study regarding this: "Emergency department hospital visits for injuries involving distracted pedestrians on cell phones more than doubled between 2004 and 2010."
Unsurprisingly, most of these Snapchatting zombies are usually millennials, and most victims are older women—"Distracted walking is most common among millennials aged 18 to 34, but women 55 and older are most likely to suffer serious injuries, including broken bones." A NY Times writer who wrote about the survey noted, "My friends of a certain age are frankly scared that they will be knocked down and injured by a distracted walker."
Frankly, we're much more scared of distracted drivers than oblivious pedestrians—everyone needs to pay more attention out on the streets of NYC, but the ones operating big, deadly machines bear a much greater responsibility, because the consequences of their inattentiveness are so grave.