A nationwide study found more than 1,500 pedestrians were estimated to be treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries related to using a cellphone while walking, double the number in 2005, they said.
"If current trends continue, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cellphones doubles again between 2010 and 2015," study co-author Jack Nasar of Ohio State University said.
Young people age 16 to 25 were most likely to be injured as distracted pedestrians, the study found.
"The role of cellphones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but we need to also consider the danger cellphone use poses to pedestrians," Nasar said in a university release Wednesday.
The researchers used data from a database maintained by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, which samples injury reports from 100 hospitals across the country.
The problem with distracted pedestrians is likely to get worse, Nasar said, adding he believes the best way to reverse these numbers is to start changing societal norms for cellphone use. That starts with parents, he said.
"Parents already teach their children to look both ways when crossing the street. They should also teach them to put away their cellphone when walking, particularly when crossing a street."