People who walk and text at the same time adapt to their surroundings. In fact, they adapt quite well. Researchers from University of Bath and Texas A&M have discovered that using a smartphone while walking significantly changes the patterns of behavior people employ—step by step.
According to the study, people who text while walking shorten their step length, reduce their step frequency, increase the amount of time both feet touch the ground and increase their obstacle clearance height, especially for stairs.
These changes in behavior protect users from accidents. In fact, the gait alteration pattern is so effective that researchers found no statistically significant likelihood of increased risk for running into stuff.
Polly McGuigan, one of the lead authors of the study, noted, "We found that our participants were very good at adapting the way they walk to limit their risk of injury, and there were very few occasions when a participant hit an obstacle."
But anyone who's had to recently brave a sidewalk knows the texting-while-walking crowd is a bit slower—no matter how well adapted. The study confirms this as well. People walk significantly slower while adopting their protective gait.
See more on the texting-while-walking epidemic:
Texting while walking
Study: People who walk and text have a different pattern
A Utah Valley University student walks down the bright green lanes painted on the stairs from the gym Thursday, June 18, 2015, at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. Utah Valley University spokeswoman Melinda Colton said the green lanes were intended as a lighthearted way to brighten up the space and get studentsâ attention. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Utah Valley University students walks along the bright green lanes painted on the stairs to the gym Thursday, June 18, 2015, at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. Utah Valley University spokeswoman Melinda Colton said the green lanes were intended as a lighthearted way to brighten up the space and get studentsâ attention. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In this July 10, 2012 photo, pedestrians cross K Street and Connecticut Ave. NW near the Farragut North Metro Entrance in downtown Washington. Across the country on city streets, in suburban parking lots and in shopping centers, there is usually someone strolling while talking on a phone, texting with their head down, listening to music, or playing a video game. The problem isn't as widely discussed as distracted driving, but the danger is real. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A pedestrian walks past a "Look!" sign on the crosswalk at the intersection of 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. in New York, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Crossing the street in New York City is complicated: Even when it's one-way, you should look both ways, and stop texting for a few seconds. Thatâs what city transportation officials tell pedestrians who often miss getting hit in the chaotic every-which-way-including-loose mill of vehicles, bicycles, scooters and sometimes, carriage horses. Theyâre making their point visible with âLOOK!â signs stenciled at 110 of the most dangerous intersections in the cityâs five boroughs. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Giancarlo Yerkes, a 30-year-old advertising employee, crosses a street in downtown Chicago while text-messaging with his cell phone, Tuesday, July 29, 2008. In an alert issued this week, the American College of Emergency Physicians says based on reports from emergency-room doctors around the country, the number of text-messaging pedestrians, bicyclists, roller-bladers and even motorists who aren't so fortunate is rising. Terkes admitted he once walked straight into a stop sign while texting and bumped his head. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
TO GO WITH Lifestyle-HongKong-China-Japan-culture-technology, FEATURE by Judith Evans In a picture taken on August 20, 2010 two Chinese men send text messages as they walk along a subway tunnel in Beijing. Some Chinese people are finding that when they pick up a pen to write, the Chinese characters for simple words have entirely slipped from their mind. Surveys indicate the phenomenon, dubbed 'character amnesia', is widespread across China, causing young Chinese to fear for the future of their ancient writing system. Character amnesia happens because most Chinese people use electronic input systems based on pinyin, which translates Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet. AFP PHOTO / Franko LEE (Photo credit should read Franko Lee/AFP/Getty Images)
A man texts on his smartphone as he walks along a street in New York on March 4, 2015. AFP PHOT/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Pedestrians walk through an "e-lane" Monday, April 2, 2012, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter used April Fool's Day to have a little fun with what he says is a real problem: distracted walking. City officials painted lines and oblivious stick-figure pictures on one stretch of John F. Kennedy Boulevard near City Hall as a jab at pedestrians who keep their eyes on their cellphone screens and not their surroundings. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)