A new study conducted by researchers from the United Kingdom has found that people who walk and text at the same time, slow down their pace in an attempt to avoid accidents.
It turns out that the visual is actually pretty funny if you can manage to take a step back from your anger and look at the people who text while walking. The researchers have found that they are so focused on writing / reading their messages that they automatically adopt a more protective gait
Dr. Conrad Earnest, senior author on the study and researcher from Texas A&M University, explained that these individuals start moving slower, taking smaller steps, and raising their feet unnecessarily high when encountering stairs or a bump in their path.
Dr. Earnest gave a statement saying that this behavior “annoys the hell out of everybody walking behind you. If I’m trying to walk around you and you veer to the right, then I have to counter even further to the right rather than bump into you, and then that puts me at risk”.
In fact, the senior author informed that the study was inspired by his dislike of people who walk and text at the same time. He then asked Sammy Licence and Robynne Smith, both undergrads from the University of Bath, to help him with the project.
For their study, the researchers selected 30 subjects with the age between 18 and 50, built them an obstacle course and had them complete three (3) entirely different walking tasks.
The first task was to walk through the obstacle course normally, the second was to walk through the obstacle course while texting, and the third was to walk through the obstacle course while texting and solving a fairly simple math test at the same time. The researchers referred to the last task as a “cognitive distraction”.
Dr. Earnest and his team used 3D motion analysis in order to examine the walking gait of test subjects and identify the differences between trails.
What they found was no surprise. When the subjects simply texted and walked at the same time, they took longer to complete the obstacle course than when they walked normally. And when they texted and walked while being cognitively distracted, they took longer to complete the obstacle course than when they simply texted and walked without being cognitively distracted.
But texting while walking, as well as texting while walking and being cognitively distracted did not results in more accidents. Subjects did not trip and they did not bump into dummies any more than they did when they walked normally. What did happen, is that the subjects adopted a slower walking pace, took smaller steps and made grand, exaggerated movements.
Having said all of this, one unwanted behavior had an undeniable presence – people seemed to be unable to walk in a straight line. They kept veering right and left as if they were drunk.
Dr. Earnest and his team did theorize however that the age group that they used for the study may be more used to texting and walking at the same time. They said that future tests need to be conducted on elder adults who may be in more danger of tripping or bumping into people and objects while doing the same thing.
But one has to wonder if there are any elderly adults who text while walking as the older generations aren’t as connected to technology as the younger ones.
Image Source: pictures.zimbio.com