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Bonnie Angelone, Megan Brown, Emily Diana; Walk the line: Pedestrian distraction and cross walk safety. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):484. https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.484.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
While the bulk of research on cell phone distraction has focused on driving, there is more recent interest regarding walking and pedestrian safety. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in emergency room visits following pedestrian-related injury. Some researchers have used virtual reality or simulations to examine distracted walking, however, there are fewer observational studies focused on distracted walking as it occurs in a real-life setting. Pedestrians are at more risk for injury when they text, talk, converse with others, and use headphones. Cell phone users walk slower, change direction more often, and show fewer acknowledgements of others in their pathway. We conducted an observational study at three high volume crosswalks on a college campus. Pedestrians' (N=265) safety behaviors were recorded along with several common distractive behaviors. Chi-square analyses revealed that cell phone users were no different than individuals not using their phones in three observed safety behaviors: pressing/waiting for the crossing signal, looking both ways before entering crosswalks, waiting for traffic to stop before crossing. Also, individuals using headphones were no different than individuals not using headphones in the three safety behaviors. However, people who walked individually, were less likely to press the signal or wait for the cross signal than those who walked in with others. They were also more likely to look both ways before crossing. Overall, pedestrians were not engaged in a high rate of cell phone use while walking, which is promising. Also, when they did engage with their cell phones or had headphones in use, they did not display higher rates of unsafe crossing behaviors, but this was different when they walked with others. It may be the case that pedestrians use caution when approaching some crosswalks and may have adapted ways to minimally use their devices and exhibit "safe-enough" crossing behaviors.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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