Researcher says walking texters could end up ‘in a zombie-like state’

A common complaint many of us hear from friends and loved ones these days is that our faces are constantly buried in our cell phones, and new, engaging augmented reality games like Pokémon Go aren’t helping our cases.

It’s common in a big city to see pedestrians paying much more attention to their devices than the world around them, and a good number of collisions on streets and sidewalks could be avoided if we all just payed a little more attention.

Researcher Pierre-Marjorique Léger from HEC Montreal is currently working on a study related to the distractions caused by mobile multi-tasking. His research so far indicates that being on your phone while walking is a hazard to your safety and that around 30 percent of people walking and texting tend to make bad decisions while doing both. Léger describes these texters as being “in a zombie-like state,” and says that the higher the level of interactivity an app requires, the less people will pay attention to what’s going on around them.

Several municipal governments have put forth motions to see the use of cell phones while in crosswalks and on roadways banned, including Toronto, though these initiatives would likely lack strong public support. While the use of cell phones while walking might pose a slightly higher risk than walking without them, encouraging mobile device owners to be more aware of their surroundings will probably be a more effective solution in the long run.


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