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New study warns that texting while walking makes you ‘like a robot’

Using a phone to read or send texts whilst walking has resulted in accidents for a third of young people, according to a new study from the University of Queensland.

The Texting and walking: Strategies for postural control and implications for safety (opens in new tab) study found that typing and reading text messages on a mobile phone caused walkers to slow down, veer off course and potentially cause accidents.

"These altered gait parameters may have an impact on the safety of pedestrians who type or read text on a mobile phone while walking," the study said.

Dr Siobhan Schabrun, co-author and physiotherapist, claimed that the change in body posture and gait of the study's subjects resembled that of a robot.

"They hold their body posture really rigid," Schabrun told Guardian Australia (opens in new tab). "Their arms, trunk and head are all fixed together and they walk a little bit more like a robot."

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The study also found that one in three of all the young people taking part in the study had been involved in an accident whilst reading or sending text messages on their phone.

According to Schabrun, this is a significant figure and might suggest that the proportion would be higher amongst older people that aren't part of "a generation who is very adept at using their phones and who think they are good at dual-tasking".

"If you're walking along and texting, the key issue is that you think you're walking in a straight line. But you're actually not," said Schabrun. "You can end up having an accident."