There’s already plenty of evidence to suggest texting while walking is more dangerous than you think. And now we have science to back it up. A new study has concluded that people are less likely to pay attention to their surroundings, keep their balance, or even walk in a straight line while looking at their phone (texting or reading). As if we didn’t already know that from watching this video. But it’s true—and with more and more people owning a smartphone, it’s basically human bumper cars in big cities.
Researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland found that smartphone use impacts “gait performance,” which could potentially lead to all kinds of unfortunate situations: bumping into strangers, running into signs or even falling down a manhole. Situations you would have otherwise avoided had your eyes and mind not been so focused on texting your friends. Smartphone use just doesn’t affect those behind the wheel: a nationwide study in the U.S. found that pedestrians treated in emergency rooms for texting and walking-related injuries more than doubled since 2005.
The Australian study consisted of 26 healthy people, who were required to walk down a line while performing three tasks, including texting, reading on a phone, and walking without a phone. Their movement was then analyzed, which scientists used to conclude that texting definitely affected walking; participants walked slower, looked around less and deviated more from the required path. Out in a big city with thousands of people, cars and other hazards, you can see just how dangerous it can be.
A study like this won’t deter people from walking and texting. But it could help us become more mindful of our surroundings, which will hopefully lead to less people falling in fountains. Don’t be that person—unless you have a guide.