NEW YORK CITY — Heads up! More and more New Yorkers who have their heads buried in their phones, while on foot, are finding themselves in emergency rooms.
In the city that never sleeps, millions of people are constantly connected and the need to be buried in our cellphones is putting others in peril.
PIX11 News watched countless commuters fixated with their phones, crossing the busy streets of midtown while staring at their screens.
“I do it all the time,” pedestrian Heather Greenburg said.
So what’s so important?
"I think people can’t wait,” pedestrian Stephanie Gonzalez said.
If you can’t wait, there could be consequences. In California, a distracted man came face to face with a 300-pound bear. And a trip to the mall for a 49-year-old shopper in Pennsylvania ended very wet, when she fell into a fountain because she was too busy on her phone. A man in Philadelphia was caught on camera falling onto SEPTA train tracks.
It was no laughing matter for a budding stand up comedian in SoHo, who fell and was hit by a subway train.
She survived, but this past December, Joshua M. Burwell was distracted by a device and died after walking right off a 40-foot cliff in San Diego.
“No matter how important that text was, it’s never worth putting yourself at risk,” Dr. Dara Kass said.
Kass is an emergency room doctor at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. She read a recent SUNY study that estimated 10 percent of all ER visits are so-called “petextrians.”
“We’re seeing an uptick in people getting hit by cars and bikes at low speed. We wonder if they're distracted when they're entering the crosswalk,” Kass said.
The National Safety Council documented 11,000 injuries from distracted walking since 2000 and found incidents are on the rise in all age groups.
“Roadways, intersections, heavily trafficked environments are particularly risky areas,” said Debbie Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
PIX11 News caught Greenburg checking Facebook on her birthday.
"Oh, well, that’s embarrassing,” she said.
When asked if it's something she always does, she replied, "Always," with a laugh.
Some may never learn, like Stephanie Gonzalez. PIX11 News spotted the Manhattan resident checking her phone while walking in a crosswalk on East 42nd Street during the morning rush hour.
“I’ve actually, a while ago, texted and a car didn’t notice me and it almost hit me,” Gonzalez said.
If on the street and she spots a “petextrian,” Dr. Kass said she won’t hesitate telling them to stop, step aside, then let your fingers do the walking.
“Maybe I should help people before they cross the street,” Kass said.
New York City hospitals plan on studying “distracted walking” cases for the mayor’s Vision Zero campaign to help cut down the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.