Texting while walking alters pace, path: study

College Station, TX – Texting while walking causes people to slow their pace and veer from straight-line paths – which could lead to trip-and-fall incidents, according to a recent study from Texas A&M University.

Researchers analyzed 30 participants between 18 and 50 years old as they took part in three activities: non-distracted walking, texting while walking and texting while negotiating a course with obstacles.

Participants who texted – regardless of the obstacle course – took “significantly longer” to complete the path than participants who did not text, researchers said. Side-to-side walking also increased among those who texted while walking, and those who texted while walking increased the height of their step while approaching curbs or steps.

The researchers concluded that slower walking pace and path deviations could lead to trip-and-fall incidents, according to a press release.

“Eventually, one has to exercise due diligence and self-protection,” researcher Conrad Earnest said in a press release. “Perhaps a good middle ground is that if a text or email really can’t wait, then ‘pull to the side’ – stand still, answer the text and continue along.”

The study was published online July 29 in the journal PLOS One.