Examining Injury Reports Caused By Smartphones
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission collects data from around a hundred hospitals across America, specifically visits to the emergency room, and then collates all that information into the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). For the year 2014 (the most recent year in which information is made available), it turned out that more than 500 injury reports have been filed, all caused by (or blamed on) smartphones. To be clear about it, NEISS’ data does not specify particular makes or models of devices, but it should give an overall picture of how much people attribute certain injuries to their mobile devices.
Over 40 cases of the injury reports involved people hurting themselves while busy doing something on their smartphones while inside an automobile. Incidents of calling or text messaging inside a car are fairly expected, but intriguingly, some of the cases also involve injuries for mobile users who were walking, running, or riding a bicycle on the street. But while drivers (or riders) injured while they were distracted with their smartphones while inside the car are more prevalent (and as a result, more often reported), distracted walkers/runners/cyclers do not enjoy the same attention.
To be fair, there have studies regarding pedestrians too busy with their smartphones to mind their own safety on the streets. Back in 2013 for instance, the Ohio State University conducted a study, and actually found that the number of injuries among pedestrians busy with their mobile devices have increased two fold between the years of 2005 up to 2010. The injuries range from those resulting from stumbles, falls, and even worse, like being hit a moving vehicle. Intriguingly, some of the cases involved people who were not even moving when they got injured. One mobile user was busy browsing his smartphone, got very excited over something, and then fell on the pavement on his own, resulting to a knee injury, albeit just a minor one.
Surprisingly, some of the injuries that were reported involved mobile users getting hurt by glass shards in their eyes, when their devices got shattered when falling on the floor. On top of that, over a dozen cases detailed how some people sustained cuts and abrasions from the damaged glass on their smartphones. Amazingly, a certain case involved a user who sustained a corneal abrasion due to broken glass (from a shattered handset) and went through an entire week with his injury untreated. Yet another user sustained a cut on her thumb when she fell and broke her smartphone.
There are even cases involving people getting shocked or electrocuted while using smartphones. Cases such as being hit by lightning while making a call inside the house are rather rare and extreme, but not so with incidents that involve charging one’s smartphone.
Smartphone incidents involving kids are rampant, too. When playing (or in the midst of a tantrum), kids often throw things, resulting to injuries to themselves (when the thing thrown bounces off the floor or the wall) or to other kids. In the age of phablets, a kid hit with a 5.5 inch smartphone is no laughing matter.
Even smartphone chargers are seen as culprits. Tripping over a charging smartphone does not seem like a big deal, but when you hit a table’s edge on your way down, or tumble down the stairs, it is a completely different story.
Some might say that the smartphones should not be blamed -- people are just careless. Any useful tool can become harmful when it is not used properly. The same could be said for mobile devices. There is no need to make them safer, we just need to be more mindful, that’s all. So while you are reading this article on your mobile, please do mind your step.