A health hazard? Walking and texting.

A health hazard? Walking and texting. Photo: Tim Robberts

We know that texting while driving is bad, but a study has found that texting while walking can also be hazardous.

Researchers from the University of Queensland's School of Health and Rehabilitation Science studied how 26 participants were affected by texting, reading their phone or not looking at their phone at all while walking.

They found those who texted or read their phones walked slower, veered more off path and locked their torsos into a rigid position.

One of the study's authors, Dr Siobhan Schabrun, says this robot-like way of walking is problematic because “the more rigid you are the more likely you are to fall”.

Published in the journal Plos One, the study concluded that the way texting affected posture and the way a person walks “may have an impact on the safety of pedestrians who type or read text on a mobile phone while walking”.

Schabrun says the researchers became interested in conducting the study after noticing a large amount of YouTube videos with texting and walking accidents.

“We also know the amount of pedestrian accidents is going up,” she says.

Although there is not a lot of data in Australia, Schabrun says there is some data from hospital emergency rooms in the US that indicates more people are having text message-related accidents.

The report showed that nine of the study's participants claimed to have had text message-related accidents, and it's only surprising more of the participants hadn't had such an incident.

While the YouTube clips of texting-while-walking accidents may provide light entertainment, there is one mobile phone activity that is bad for more than just your ego.

Texting while driving is a serious problem, and is illegal in Australia. A survey by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport showed 14 per cent of surveyed drivers text while driving and 31 per cent read messages while on the road.

The potential consequences of an accident caused by texting while driving are serious, but a Belgium group called Responsible Young Drivers has come up with a novel way of tackling the issue.

The video shows a driving instructor telling participants that a new law requires them to pass a test proving they can drive while texting. The young drivers soon realise how dangerous the activity is.

Based on the University of Queensland study, maybe someone should make a similar video on the perils of walking while texting. It turns out, someone already has.

American filmmaker Casey Neistat created this video of the etiquette of texting and walking, which hopefully can help correct dangerous, robot-like public texting habits.