It's clear that texting impairs our ability to walk. If it didn't, we wouldn't have so many war stories of walking into trees/each other/street lights/stationary objects. Here's a particularly embarrassing anecdote, from an anonymous Atlantic video executive producer, who was texting while walking through Washington, D.C., during Polar Vortex, Part I:
"I walked into a low-hanging tree branch and spilled coffee all over my jacket. It was a water-proof jacket, and the little beads of coffee froze to the jacket. Someone was in front of me and saw everything and gave me a look like 'what are you doing?'"
In this anonymous person's defense, the Pew Research Center (which has actually studied this) found in 2012 that 53 percent of all adult cell phone users have bumped into someone or something – or been on the receiving end of such a bump – thanks to this kind of distracted walking:
Now, scientists are starting to identify exactly what we're doing wrong. Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia have just published a paper in the journal PLOS ONE confirming that, in fact, texting changes how we walk, right down to our "gait kinematics."