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Text at your own risk

During a recent trip to Fargo, I tried, unsuccessfully, to text while my kids and I walked through the busy shopping mall. I brushed into a few people, stumbled more than once and nearly crashed into a standee before my oldest son said "Mom, you're dangerous!"

I will admit I am still new to manipulating the small keypads of my cell phone when sending a text, which could have played a part in my clumsiness. Because I clearly was not paying attention and I should have, it was a nice wake-up call to be a lot more careful in the future when texting.

Like drivers who talk on their cell phone, mobile texters typing furiously on their cell phones, BlackBerry devices or iphones can be safety hazards to themselves and others.

I too am a part of a growing group of multitaskers that are texting on the go. While there are no reliable statistics on the frequency of text message-related injuries, the American College of Emergency Physicians went so far as to issue a warning earlier in 2008 about the rising number of accidents.

Emergency room (ER) doctors cite rising reports from doctors around the country of injuries involving text-messaging pedestrians, bicyclists, rollerbladers and even motorists.

Mobile texters who have ended up in the ER obviously run into walls and doorways or fall down stairs. Out on the streets, they bump into lampposts, parked cars, garbage cans and other stationary objects.

Most injuries involve scrapes, cuts and sprains from texters who walked into objects or tripped over curbs.

People are texting and their minds are on their cell phones, not on the potential hazards they may come in contact with. Many of the injuries sustained turn out to be relatively minor; others can be more deadly, such as stepping off a curb and falling into moving traffic.

Wan 2 txt? Keep common-sense safety measures in mind. Be mindful of the distraction that texting can cause.

• Do not text or use a cell phone while engaged in any physical activities that require sustained attention: walking, biking, boating, rollerblading or even sports such as baseball or soccer.

• Never text while driving or motorcycling.

• Do not text in any environments in which excessive inattention can cause safety concerns, such as while waiting for a bus, or in a crowded area, where one could easily become a victim of a personal theft.

In Minnesota it is now against the law to text message while operating a motor vehicle. Taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to text could end your life or the life of someone else.

The same seriousness goes for texters who are mobile on foot.

The bottom line is to be aware of potential safety concerns and to simply exercise caution when sending and reading text messages on the go. B/c the nxt txt msg u send cld be ur last.

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