Don’t trip! Distracted walking report released

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) released a study on distracted walking that concluded that it is a serious issue and that most Americans believe that other people are to blame.  The AAOS is concerned about the dangers of “Digital Deadwalking” with more pedestrians falling down stairs, tripping over curbs, bumping into other walkers, or stepping into oncoming traffic and causing greater numbers of injuries than ever.  Emergency department visits for such injuries more than doubled from 2004-2010. (1)   Americans, it would seem, are overly confident in their ability to multitask.  When asked why they walk distracted, most responded that they “just don’t think about it”, feel “they can walk and do other things”, or “are busy and want to use their time productively.”

78% of the Americans surveyed believe the issue is serious.  However 74% of the respondents believe that other people are usually or always the ones to engage in the activity.  Only 29% admitted to doing it themselves.  The study concludes that the “it’s not me, it’s you” attitude covers a wide range of distracted walking behaviors:

90% of people see others walking and talking on the phone but only 37% admit they do it themselves.

85% of people see others walking and using a smartphone but only 28% admit they do it themselves.

Earlier this year, AAOS launched their “Digital Deadwalkers” public service announcement to encourage pedestrians to be more aware and “engage!” while walking.  You can take a look at the “Digital Deadwakers” other AAOS PSAs here.

More information about the report and the AAOS’s campaign to reduce injuries due to inattentive walkers can be found here.


(1) Nasar JL, Troyer D. Pedestrian injuries due to mobile phone use in public places. Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Aug;57:91-5.