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From time to time we may all feel like a klutz and say we can’t walk, talk and chew gum at the same time. But how many of you actually walk and text at the same time? If you are one of the many who do, the members of the American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation (ACEPF) are in the ER ready and waiting to treat your injuries.

ER doctors are reporting significant increases in reported injuries due to people tripping on cracks, falling off curbs, running into other people or even stepping in front of a passing vehicle because they were focused on texting and not where they were going. Since the patients usually don’t want to admit to the ER personnel that they were doing something that was not smart, the attending emergency personnel are the ones that are reporting the incidents.

While there has been a lot of focus and even new laws preventing texting while driving, the ACEPF wants to stress that it can be just as dangerous to walk and text at the same time. Students will be returning to schools and universities shortly and the ER physicians want them to be aware of the dangers of a lack of concentration while walking, roller blading, or biking. They can even be distracted while talking on a cell phone. The ACEPF warning tells of a man engaged in a call on his cell phone who was killed when he stepped into traffic.

So to try to reduce the number of texting-related accidents, the ER physicians have made the following recommendations regarding texting, cell phones and iPods:

  • Don’t text or use a cell phone while engaged in any physical activities that require sustained attention; such activities include walking, biking, boating, rollerblading or even intermittent-contact sports such as baseball, football or soccer.
  • Never text or use a hand-held cell phone while driving or motorcycling, and use caution even with headsets.
  • Avoid becoming distracted by rummaging through purses, backpacks or clothing by keeping cell phones and blackberries in easy-to-find locations, such as phone pockets or pouches.
  • Ignore the call or message if it might interfere with concentration during critical activities that require attention. Better yet, turn off the device beforehand during times when incoming calls or messages might prove to be a dangerous or even simply embarrassing or annoying interference.
  • Be mindful of the distraction and corresponding reflex-response delay that texting can cause, and don’t text in any environments in which excessive inattention can cause safety concerns, such as while sitting alone at night, waiting for a bus, or in a crowded area, where one could easily become a victim of a personal theft.

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