UNLV professor studies the risks of distracted walking

The difference between distracted driving and distracted walking? One is a well-known, dangerous behavior that everybody agrees should be avoided. The other is a potentially harmful behavior that most of us barely think about.

But Tim Bungum does. The professor in UNLV’s School of Community Health Sciences has studied distracted driving and its bipedal counterpart, and while distracted walking may not yet receive the research attention distracted driving does, Bungum suspects it will as the gaggle of gizmos we embrace continues to multiply.

Walking while distracted — be it by conversing, eating, drinking, listening to music, texting or checking email or social media — can make us too preoccupied to notice an oncoming car, a curb, a person or a random object in our path. The consequences can include embarrassment, a painful injury or, in the case of a pedestrian-motor vehicle encounter, death.

For a study published in 2005, Bungum and his co-researchers observed 866 pedestrians crossing Maryland Parkway in a crosswalk at Harmon Avenue, in front of the UNLV campus. They found that about 20 percent of crossers exhibited distracted behaviors.

This was a time when texting wasn’t nearly as pervasive as it is today, Bungum notes.

“We redid it last year at the same site, and, surprisingly, about the same number of people, about 20 percent, were distracted, but the modes of distraction had changed and now, predominantly it was texting,” he says.

As part of a public education campaign unveiled in 2015, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons noted that distracted walking can cause such everyday accidents as falling down stairs and tripping over curbs, resulting in cuts, bruises, sprains or fractures.

Dr. Claudette Lajam, a New York City orthopedic surgeon and academy spokeswoman, says awareness of the hazards associated with distracted walking has become more prevalent in recent years. Still, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how common distracted walking is, in part because walkers can be loath to admit it.

“Occasionally, I see people who have fallen down and hurt a knee or an ankle or an elbow or whatever, and they say, ‘I tripped and fell,’ ” Lajam says. “Seldom will someone come in and say, ‘I was looking at my cellphone and I tripped and fell.’ “

Dr. David Obert, an emergency medicine physician at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, has seen such injuries as sprained ankles, broken legs, knee dislocations and wrist injuries among potential distracted walkers.

He’s also seen accidents in which people “trip down the escalator because they’re not looking around and not paying attention.”

“I think it happens, probably, more often than reported, and I think it’s probably a degree of embarrassment,” Obert says.

Why are we so distracted? “I think, to a certain extent, we think we should always be productive,” Bungum says.

So we multitask, even though we might not be as good at it as we think, says David Copeland, an associate professor of psychology at UNLV.

Copeland says multitasking isn’t difficult with simple, routine, relatively unchanging tasks — for example, tying your shoes while carrying on a phone conversation. Crossing a street is a different story, requiring “attention to the environment and processing input from cars, other people and sounds from horns.”

“Your cognitive attention is limited whenever we try to spread it too thin,” Copeland says.

In his study, Bungum suggests that distracted pedestrians might benefit from educational programs that emphasize using caution in crossing streets, similar to distracted driver programs.

In the meantime, be assured that you’re not fooling anybody, least of all your doctor. Even if patients who have suffered potential distracted walking-related accidents seldom admit it, Lajam says they’re easy to spot.

If a patient is “looking at their phone while they’re sitting in the examination room with me,” she says, “it’s not a huge deduction to make.”

Distracted walking survey

In 2015, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons unveiled a public education campaign about distracted walking. As part of that campaign, the academy surveyed 2,500 people nationally about their attitudes toward distracted walking.

According to the survey:

• 78 percent of respondents called distracted walking a “serious” issue. About 75 percent of respondents said other people walked distractedly, but just 29 percent said that they also do.

• 90 percent have seen people talking on the phone while walking; 37 percent said they also do.

• 88 percent have seen people conversing; 75 percent report doing it.

• 88 percent have seen others listening to music; 34 percent report doing it.

• 85 percent have seen others using smartphones; 28 percent report doing it.

• 64 percent have seen others “zoning out”; and 38 percent report doing it.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons,

orthoinfo.org/DistractedPedestrians

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Life
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like