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Warning on perils of texting on move

Texting on the move affects the way people walk and may expose them to danger, according to new research.

Writing texts while walking can alter posture and balance, say scientists who studied the effects of mobile phone use on 26 healthy volunteers.

Participants in the Australian study walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of around 28 feet.

Each was asked to either walk without a phone or to walk while reading or typing a text (inset). At the same time, their movements were analysed in three dimensions.

Texting and to some extent reading were shown to modify body positioning while walking. While texting, participants walked more slowly and were more likely to swerve from a straight course.

OBSTACLES

Although the arms and head moved with the chest to facilitate reading and texting, increased head movement could have a negative effect on balance, said the researchers.

Texting pedestrians may be more at risk when navigating obstacles or crossing roads, they added.

Study leader Dr Siobhan Schabrun from the University of Queensland said: "Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance. This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time."

hnews@herald.ie


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