25 Sep 2023

ACC claims on the rise for accidents related to mobile phone use

3:23 pm on 25 September 2023
Woman holding a mobile phone with a bright glowing screen

People using their phone on the move are more at risk of accidents, a recent study found. Photo: 123RF

The cost of injuries for people not watching where they are walking while looking at their mobile phones is on the rise.

ACC figures show the cost of injury claims has more than doubled compared to 2018 - to more than $3.7 million from just over $1.5m.

ACC injury prevention leader James Whittaker said more people were walking into trees, tripping over and falling down curbs.

"From what we can see in the data, it looks like most phone related injuries occur when someone loses their balance.

"Other things that are happening are, people getting injured when they are using their phone while lifting or carrying something, or when they collide into something," he said.

Whittaker said to avoid injury people should try not to multitask but focus on their surroundings rather than a screen.

Manufacturers urged to do more

This advice is reinforced by a recent study from the University of New South Wales that found people who messaged while on the move were more likely to have an accident.

Study leader Dr Matthew Brodie put his students into a safety harness and sent them down a pathway with random slip hazards. Most ended up falling foul of the obstacles, illustrating a simple point about phone use on the move.

Brodie called on phone manufacturers to do more to prevent people suffering accidents while looking at their screens.

"There's many things that could be done, such as a warning that if you're walking while texting. A warning could come up on the screen which you have to click 'OK. Yes, I acknowledge' - to more extreme measures where the screen could actually lock.

"We've done other research that shows you can easily detect the walking patterns from these sensors in the phone. So, this would not be hard to implement," he said.

The study also showed that apart from the chances of an accident increasing, messaging while walking also led to people making more mistakes in their messages to friends, families and work colleagues.

The advice from experts is simple, if you need to use your phone while on the move - make an old-fashioned voice call.

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