At the end of July, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued an alert warning of increasing numbers of individuals arriving in emergency rooms around the country with serious and sometimes fatal injuries because they were not paying attention while texting. Injured parties include text-messaging pedestrians, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and motorists. Injuries and fatalities have included:
- Scrapes, cuts and sprains from texters who walked into lampposts, signs or walls, or tripped over curbs
- A 15-year-old girl who fell off her horse while texting, suffering head and back injuries
- A 13-year-old girl who suffered belly, leg and arm burns after texting her boyfriend while cooking noodles
- A woman killed by a pickup truck after she stepped off a curb while texting
- A man was killed by a car while crossing the street and texting
As we’ve noted in the past, many states such as Washington and Oregon have instituted laws against texting while driving. But new laws are no substitute for common sense. The American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation offers these safety tips for habitual texters:
- Don’t text or use a cell phone while engaged in any physical activities that require sustained attention; such activities include walking, biking, boating, rollerblading or even intermittent-contact sports such as baseball, football or soccer.
- Never text or use a hand-held cell phone while driving or motorcycling, and use caution even with headsets.
- Avoid becoming distracted by rummaging through purses, backpacks or clothing by keeping cell phones and blackberries in easy-to-find locations, such as phone pockets or pouches.
- Ignore the call or message if it might interfere with concentration during critical activities that require attention. Better yet, turn off the device beforehand during times when incoming calls or messages might prove to be a dangerous or even simply embarrassing or annoying interference.
- Be mindful of the distraction and corresponding reflex-response delay that texting can cause, and don’t text in any environments in which excessive inattention can cause safety concerns, such as while sitting alone at night, waiting for a bus, or in a crowded area, where one could easily become a victim of a personal theft.