"Phones down, heads up "

Texting while walking is a new killer of our generation


We’ve all done it: Walked seamlessly down the crowded spine with our eyes glued to our phones. “Oops, excuse me, sorry.”

The dangers of texting while walking are, apparently, just as dangerous and distracted driving.

Last week, I found myself tripping over a book bag and falling into a wall from not paying attention to where I was walking because I was texting.

I never before took into consideration that I am one of thousands of students walking around campus completely unaware of what’s in front of me.

For many of us, walking to class becomes a routine and requires little thought. We tend to look at our phones out of habit or to avoid awkward eye contact with someone coming from the other direction.

This is a problem.

“Nationally, of the 41,000 pedestrians treated in emergency rooms each year, as many as 15 percent of accidents, or more than 6,100, involve cellphones,” said Dietrich Jehle, MD and UB professor of emergency medicine in a press release.

It is clear this is a reoccurring problem because there are apps designed to keep people from walking while distracted.

Type & Walk enables iPhone users to text while being able to see what's in front of them through the camera background feature.

For me, this was an epic fail. It seemed pretty useless because most people text with their heads down, which means you only see the floor. In order for it to work properly, you must hold your phone up in the air, which is inconvenient and looks awkward. It's also pretty hard to see the text on the your phone when there are bodies walking in the background.

Nice try, but not effective.

I don't believe this problem will ever be solved until people make the personal decision to stop texting and walking.

Other than your potential to cause accidents and physical harm to yourself and others, texting while walking makes you less engaged with and more vulnerable to the people around you.

In high school, my mother warned me about walking to the bus stop looking at my phone or walking by myself with headphones in. I didn’t understand the overprotective lectures until one day I was being followed and didn’t notice until the man got on my school bus.

I was scared and embarrassed to admit that I was so focused on Twitter, I didn't even see a potential stalker.

There are endless advertisements urging people to stop texting and driving, but now the need to stop texting and walking will be just as important.

In 2012, 488 children ages 19 and under died after being hit by a car while walking. Of those, 284 were teens ages 13 to 19, according to the Safe Kids Worldwide website.

From the students who say they were hit or almost hit by a vehicle, 47 percent said they listened to music while crossing the street, 18 percent said they texted and 20 percent said they talked on the phone while walking across the street, according to the website.

Those numbers are disturbing, mainly because I am part of that percentage.

Safe Kids is one of the few organizations that have started to take action against texting while walking.

Their Moment of Silence campaign is in memory of a 15-year-old girl who was hit by a car while crossing the street with headphones in.

To helps teens from becoming another statistic, Safe Kids has listed four tips to keep us safe.

1. Put down phones and headphones when crossing the street.

2. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing.

3. Be especially alert when it’s dark out and make sure you’re visible to drivers.

4. Cross at a traffic signal or crosswalk when possible.

Although people are at most risk when outside, these points should be made more prevalent on college campuses. We are the ones who can make it a safer environment if we are more attentive.

Therefore, I pledge to (try) to keep my eyes off of my phone until I reach my destination and tell those around me to put their phones down and keep their heads up.

email: gabriela.julia@ubspectrum.com