In 2010, 1500 pedestrians were estimated to be treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to using a cell phone while walking, finds study.
The number of such injuries has more than doubled since 2005, even though the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that time.
And researchers believe that the actual number of injured pedestrians is actually much higher than these results suggest.
"If current trends continue, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015," Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at The Ohio State University, said.
"The role of cell phones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but we need to also consider the danger cell phone use poses to pedestrians," he said.
The study found that young people aged 16 to 25 were most likely to be injured as distracted pedestrians, and most were hurt while talking rather than texting.
The researchers used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database maintained by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), which samples injury reports from 100 hospitals around the country. These reports are used to estimate total injury occurrences at emergency rooms across the country.
They examined data for seven years (from 2004 to 2010) involving injuries related to cell phone use for pedestrians in public areas (in other words, not at home).
The study is published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.