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Your smartphone screen is a big distraction, isn’t it? Texting and walking is so common now that it’s becoming a real threat to public health.
People are (usually) getting better at avoiding texting and driving. However, far too many people have no qualms about walking around with their faces glued to their smartphone screens. This leads to situations that at best result in embarrassing accidents, and at worst have far more serious consequences.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst texting and walking fails and reflect on why texting was a bad decision at that given moment.
1. Smartphones and Poles Don’t Mix
A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar. The priest asks the rabbi why he walked into the bar, to which the rabbi replies, “Oh, I was texting, and didn’t see it.”
Bad jokes aside, poles are everywhere. Looking down at a phone while you’re walking along a sidewalk increases your odds of coming face-to-face with a pole in a short time.
And as you can see in this video, when a human and pole collide, the pole always wins.
How to stay safe: Sidewalks are rife with objects that’ll get in your path at any given moment, like signs, poles, and other people. If you absolutely need to respond to a text message, step to the side and out of the flow of pedestrian traffic before you start texting. Maybe even find a Wi-Fi hotspot and save on your data usage if you’re doing more than texting.
2. Texting and Shopping
Sure, there are lots of shopping apps that are tempting to use when you’re at the mall or browsing stores. But using those apps could get you in trouble.
Take the woman in this video as a case in point. While walking through a shopping mall, she decided to start texting. While entering the intersection of two mall wings, where there was a fountain, she inadvertently struck the fountain and fell over headfirst into the water.
There’s not much that can take away the embarrassment of falling into a water fountain in the middle of the mall just because you were texting and walking.
How to stay safe: The most dangerous objects to text near are walls or fences that are knee-high. They’re just short enough so that your phone blocks the part of your view where you’d normally see them. For ideas to stay safe in the mall, see the below section.
3. Running Into Signs
Here’s a fact about signs: they’re placed in locations where it’s easy to see and read them. The problem is that these days, because people are so busy looking at their phones, they’re now walking into areas they’ve never gone before.
The center of a mall is often a place for signage, kiosks, and more. But as you can see from this video, when texting and walking comes into play, no area is off-limits.
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. In the mall, people run into benches, shopping carts, and sometimes even people. The madness needs to stop.
How to stay safe: If you’re in the mall, there are plenty of locations and opportunities to use your phone. Sit on one of the many benches in the middle of the mall (rather than running into them). The food court is a great place to sit down and use your phone.
But when you’re browsing the mall, just keep the phone in your back pocket or purse. Better yet, stay super safe by using our ultimate online shopping guide to do all your shopping from home!
4. Texting Could Get You Trapped
This video is almost unbelievable, but it actually happened. This woman absentmindedly walked into an automated parking carousel. Before she realized where she was, the door had closed and she was trapped.
To make matters worse, once the car lift arrived at the lower level, she ended up getting struck and hurt by a car getting automatically loaded onto the lift.
You may think this is something that would never happen to you, but how many times have you missed a turn while driving because you were focused on something else? The human mind is easily distracted. Your phone could land you in an unfortunate and dangerous location that you might struggle to get out of.
How to stay safe: The number-one tip any personal safety expert will offer is to always be aware of your surroundings. This protects you from criminals and other forms of danger, including getting trapped in a car carousel. Reading a text or typing a Facebook post makes you lose that awareness, among other negative effects of social media.
5. You’ll Walk Straight Into Danger
Here’s something else that can happen when you lose track of your surroundings: you might walk directly into the face of danger.
This could include entering a crosswalk when the “Do No Walk” sign is flashing, running into angry people, or getting injured by hitting a sharp object.
As bad as all of those sound, could you imagine walking directly into the path of a wild bear? That’s what happened to the poor guy in this video. Yes, you guessed it—he was texting and walking.
How to stay safe: There are areas that you know are more likely to contain dangers. Train tracks have fast-moving trains. Bad parts of town have people likely to mug you. Why increase your susceptibility to threats by letting your phone distract you?
You can take a break and text in plenty of places—a cafe, a library, or even just a park bench. Take advantage of those.
6. You’ll Miss Horns and Sirens
It’s bad enough when you’re distracted by trying to type a text message. But it can get even worse when you pop earbuds in and start walking around in public.
Many people fail to consider what not being able to hear their surroundings might do to their safety. But as you can see from this video, not hearing a horn or a siren can have disastrous consequences. This guy was lucky by inches, but that’s not always the case.
How to stay safe: As hard as it may be, try not to use headphones while you’re walking around in public. This is especially true in busy cities where there are cabs, ambulances, firetrucks, and more.
These vehicles can approach at speeds you won’t expect, and if you can’t hear them while attempting to cross the road, you could end up in a world of hurt. If you do use headphones while walking, just don’t use noise-canceling earphones.
7. You Could Miss an Unexpected Hole
Signs and poles are one hazard, but dropping headfirst into a six-foot hole is a lot worse. That’s exactly what happened to one woman in New Jersey.
This poor lady was probably having a normal day, minding her own business. Then at the most inopportune moment, she decided to check her phone. Just then, she collided into a knee-high open hatchway door leading to a six-foot deep hole under the sidewalk.
She eventually got carried away on a stretcher. My guess is that the text message wasn’t worth it.
How to stay safe: You may think you’ve memorized a walk you’ve taken every single day. In fact, you’re so used to it that you probably think you could text and walk the entire way. However, what you won’t be ready for is the unexpected change in your path. And if you’re staring at your phone, the only moment you’ll discover that change is when you’re colliding with it.
8. You Could End Up in a Lake
Lake Michigan is a beautiful place to explore. But when exploring the tourist attractions, some people can take the dangers a little too lightly.
That’s exactly what happened to a woman walking along a pier on Lake Michigan in 2012. She made the unfortunate mistake of texting while walking the pier, and ended up walking directly off the pier and into the water. While her husband attempted to save her, emergency services ended up having to save both of them.
How to stay safe: It’s bad enough to text and walk in the streets, but it’s quite another blunder to text and walk when you have a sheer drop to the water just a few feet on either side of you. Texting near water risks not only an unfortunate dip in the water, but water can also destroy your expensive phone. Whether you’re walking a pier or riding on a boat, it’s best to keep that phone well-secured someplace on dry land.
Text and Sit Instead, NEVER Drive!
The truth is, texting is sometimes dangerous. You may think that only texting and driving can be fatal, but texting and walking can end up costing you dearly as well. The simple solution is not to do it at all, but that’s just not realistic for a lot of people.
So when you do find you need to answer an urgent text, email, social post, or call, then find a safe place to stop walking, or a bench to sit at. Then text to your heart’s content.
Many of the ways to safely use Google Assistant while you’re driving can come in handy when you’re walking too.