CLEVELAND - We've seen the funny YouTube videos. There was the woman who was distracted by her phone and fell into a fountain . There was also the guy in California whose face was in his phone as he walked into a bear.
But distracted pedestrians is a legitimate issue and a legitimate danger. iPhones, iPads and iPods. Music, email and texting.
"I would say I have my phone in my hand probably 40 percent of the time, unfortunately," said Aaaron Marks, of Cleveland.
More often than not, many of us spend more time than we like to admit with our faces buried in our mobile devices.
"It's kind of the times now. You have to be. People are emailing you, instant messaging you, phone calls, walking up to your desk. So you have to be now," Donna Bright, of Westlake, commented as she hustled along a crowded Cleveland sidewalk recently.
Spend a few minutes during lunch hour in downtown Cleveland and you see it everywhere. People multi-tasking. Even while crossing busy streets.
Dr. Jeffrey Janata is the division chief of psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. He said most people can't focus on two things at once.
"They delude themselves into feeling as though they can perform a complicated task, like walking and another complicated task like texting, and it's just not possible to pay equal attention to both," he said.
A 2010 Ohio State University study estimated that a little more than 1,500 people nationwide visited emergency rooms after they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cell phone to talk or text.
Sgt. Johnny Ham of the Cleveland Police Department said he sees it all the time and describes the perfect storm.
"You have the two situations. The pedestrians not paying attention and drivers not paying attention. They could be on their phones, texting as well. Two meet together at the same time. It's a tragedy waiting to happen," he said.
While it's not illegal to text and walk in Ohio, some cities, like Fort Lee, New Jersey, are considering it. Some people say a law may not do much.
"You're always going to have idiots out there that are just completely pre-occupied of what they're doing and they're going to run into everything. So you can't really do anything about that. It's just like every aspect of life. You're always going to have the few that ruin it for the mass," said Becky Faber, of Brunswick.
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