Anyone who has ever walked down a busy British street will be familiar with the sight of mobile phone users bent over their devices whilst they text.
Researchers claim to have found that the phenomenon is now so much a part of modern day life that humans have developed a special movement pattern to cope with texting whilst walking.
A ‘protective shuffle’ has apparently evolved to protect phone users from banging into other people or objects in their environment.
The phenomenon was noted by academics at the universities of Bath and Texas who describe the new movement as people travelling at a much slower pace, with large, often exaggerated gestures.
To test the theory, scientists asked participants to walk round a specially designed obstacle course whilst attempting to text. The environment was altered to simulate everyday encounters such as steps, curbs and people.
Researchers then noted how they altered their movement to cope with the reduced focus and vision. They found that those who were texting took 26 per cent longer to complete the course.
Last year, authorities in Chongqing, China, introduced a thirty metre wide ‘cellphone lane’ in a bid to reduce accidents.
US emergency departments treat around a thousand people a year with texting related injuries.