People who wander through the streets transfixed by their smartphones, utterly unaware of their surroundings, aren’t merely irritating. Research indicates that walking while preoccupied can lead to serious injuries – and even death. An Ohio State University study  found that injuries due to distracted walking doubled between 2004 and 2010, resulting in more than 1,500 emergency room visits for broken pelvises, legs and wrists, and injuries to the head and neck, The New York Times reports. Preoccupied pedestrians are walking off train platforms, falling down stairs, walking into poles or moving cars in crosswalks, or in the recent case of a tourist in San Diego, even stumbling off cliffs. Experts warn that this 21st-century menace may only get worse as handheld gadgets become equipped with even more enticing features. The best safeguard is a simple common sense. “You can’t really pay attention to more than one thing at a  time,” says New York City orthopedic surgeon Claudette M. Lajam, who has treated many phone-related injuries. “Look in front of you, not down at your phone.”

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