Study shows increase in cell phone-related injuries

Stock photo. Female texting on phone, Photo Date: 12/10/2011. Jhaymesisviphotography / CC BY 2.0
Stock photo. Female texting on phone, Photo Date: 12/10/2011. Jhaymesisviphotography / CC BY 2.0(KKTV)
Published: Dec. 9, 2019 at 3:42 AM CST
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National emergency room data shows cell phone-related injuries have gone up over the last 20 years, according to a new study done by the medical journal JAMA.

Researchers estimate about 76,000 people experienced cell phone-related injuries between 1998 and 2017. About 2,000 of these injuries happened each year until 2006 when smartphones grew in popularity.

People between the ages of 13 and 29 have had the most injuries. Researchers say it's because of distracted driving.

People being on their phones and walking is also a big issue. University of Iowa Psychology Professor Jodie Plumert said it's a problem on a crowed campus with multiple intersections. It can lead to people walking slower, veering more and walking into things or ignoring crosswalk signs because they're not paying attention.

Plumert said the spike in phone-related injuries shows how addicted people are to their phones.

"It's very hard to put the cell phone down,” she said. “It's also hard true that we're kind of available 24/7 with our mobile devices so people are responding to texts that come into them and they're texting back all the time."

Her suggestion is to simply not text and walk at all.

"If you do need to send a text, stop, move out of the way, and send your text,” she said. "You should never be sending texts while you're trying to walk, reading text while you're walking."

Researchers are also citing cell phone games like Pokémon GO, where people walk around on their phones trying to catch Pokémon as a potential safety risk.

Plumert says they are looking into ways to send warnings to cell phones when they are about to cross the road while texting.