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Hey, you! Don’t read this while you walk down the street

Do you check Facebook, listen to music, browse the news, or catch up with a friend while strolling down public sidewalks? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you and your smartphone-wielding ilk, are a safety hazard.

The Associated Press reported today that the number of injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms as a result of distracted walking have more than quadrupled in the past seven years.

In the U.S., over 1,000 pedestrians were treated in the emergency room last year for injuries suffered while walking and using a cellphone. Tom Schroeder, director of the the Consumer Product Safety Commission data systems, told the AP’s Joan Lowy that this number is likely to be higher as many patients failed to report that they were using a cellphone or other device at the time they were injured.

The dangers of texting while driving is widely documented and discussed (AT&T recently launched a nationwide “texting can wait” campaign), but few have pointed the finger at pedestrians. According to government officials, playing games or downloading apps on a smartphone while navigating city streets, is a recent phenomenon that poses a very real threat.

“We are where we were with cellphone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didn’t have the data,” said Jonathan Akins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, in an interview with the AP.

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