The Perils of Texting—The New Public Health Risk

Text messaging is the new way millions of Americans communicate. The American Medical Association (AMA) voted this month to advocate for state legislation prohibiting the use of hand held devices used to text message while driving. An AMA board member, Peter Carmel says that texting while driving takes the driver’s attention off the roads, which leads to accidents. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we feel that fact is an obvious one, one that pretty much goes without saying. However, when Peter Carmel stated that text messaging while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road, we felt that fact is a less obvious one, is one that all drivers should be aware of-mostly because it means our roads that much more unsafe while we share the road with texting drivers. Currently, seven states, California included, have bans on text messaging while driving because of the risk to public safety. The AMA says it will continue to support additional states in the mission to ban text messaging by motorists. We applaud the AMA and their efforts to keep the public safe from injury, as we know all too well of the inherent dangers that exist for drivers, and how a catastrophic or death related accident can happen in a split second after a driver takes their eyes off the road.

After we read the news regarding the AMA’s efforts to ban texting while driving, we felt it is not only drivers who text while driving that pose a health risk. We thought: what about walking and texting? While we support raising public awareness regarding issues of safety and text messaging while driving, we also feel it is important that public awareness is raised regarding pedestrian safety and texting while walking. Over the past year we have come across many articles relating to pedestrians being injured while texting. The American College of Emergency physicians issued alerts regarding these types of accidents . Most injuries related to texting and walking are minor, such as head injuries from bumping into poles or sprained ankles from twisting as they stepped off a curb. Some injuries, however, are quite serious or even deadly. For example, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, a San Francisco woman was killed earlier this year when she stepped off the curb while texting. We believe the message here is very clear: when you are mobile, please keep your eyes on where you are going, not on a hand-held device. Also, don’t underestimate how safe you feel while driving or walking. And lastly, accidents can occur out of nowhere –so the more alert you are while you are mobile, the better chance you have of not injuring yourself.