We all know that texting while driving is a bad idea. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed nearly 3,200 people and injured over 430,000 in 2014 alone. No wonder getting caught can land you a ticket at best — and jail time at worst.
But while texting is deadly at 70 mph, it turns out plenty can go wrong at 2 mph on your own 2 feet. If you’ve been guilty of texting while walking, here are 4 good reasons to shake the habit.
1. You stop paying attention
People absorbed in their phones don’t tend to be upright citizens of the sidewalk. According to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a majority of adults have bumped into something or been bumped by a distracted walker. And even worse, the report adds that about 40 percent of teenagers have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while walking and texting.
2. You can veer off track
When you’re multi-tasking, staying in your lane is not a given. Distracted walking changes your gait and messes with your spatial memory, making you more likely to stray from your path and into the street … or a fountain … or, true story, the path of a rogue bear.
3. You might become a statistic
Walking and texting can be deadly (even in the absence of bears). Pedestrian injuries and fatalities have been ticking up steadily over the past decade with the rise of the smartphone. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, distracted-walking-related injuries in the ER doubled, racking up over 1,500 visits. Yikes.
4. You may even get a ticket
In case the threat of injury isn’t enough to keep your eyes on the sidewalk, how about the threat of a fine? New Jersey recently introduced a bill to charge you $50 and maybe tack on some jail time for walking and texting. Similar measures have seen floor time in Arkansas, Nevada, Illinois, and (of course) New York.
So what to do instead? Make like a driver and pull over. Or better yet, just hold off until you get to your destination so you can enjoy your walk.