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Sure, We Can Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time, But…

Taking a walk across Ohio State’s Oval is just not the same in recent years. Most everyone will be using a cell phone, a device that has almost become a necessity for communication today.

But what happens when a necessity becomes a hazard?

Derek Troyer, a graduate student of Jack Nasar, professor of city and regional planning in the Knowlton School of Architecture, decided to find out.


No Texting sign on WoodruffAfter learning about injuries that happen when people text while walking, city and regional planning student Derek Troyer would advise people to be aware of taking such risks. Looks like Ohio State's Transportation and Parking agrees; this sign was recentTroyer hopes the findings can be applied to city and regional planning.percent of those injured were younger than 30.

As the number and usage time of electronic devices increases, Troyer concludes, so will the number of injuries.

“It will be necessary to make people aware of the dangers of using these devices during certain activities,” he reports.

Community design could help, he concludes, suggesting removal of utility poles from sidewalks and adding texture changes to sidewalks near curbs to reduce the number of injuries that occur when people accidentally walk or bicycle off the edges of the curbs. In the case of motorists, he says, the biggest solution would be for people to use hands-free devices. He also suggests that texting be prohibited during motor vehicle transit; cell phone technology could lock certain phone features to prevent use when vehicles are moving.

The study gave Troyer, who is employed as a traffic engineer primarily writing traffic safety studies and preliminary engineering studies, good experience for his career goals.

“I hope to continue my career studying safety concerns,” he says, “and finding practical solutions to reduce injuries and fatalities for the general public.”

Kelly Chambers is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology at Ohio State.