The role of distracted walking as it pertains to possible pedestrian injuries and fatalities is being analyzed in yet another study. What distinguishes the research from other similar studies is the fact that those conducting the effort looked towards the types of behaviors that would likely be indicative of an increased risk of an accident.
The lead researcher, a doctor with the University of Washington-Seattle Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, took a team to observe how people crossed intersections in Seattle. Over 1,000 people were watched throughout the summer, and the results are eye-opening.
Even though we’ve been conditioned since we were younger to look both ways when crossing the street, this didn’t always happen. If a pedestrian was walking with a dog or a child, he or she tended to neglect looking both directions before heading across the street. People who listened to music suffered the same failure.
When texting or talking on a cellphone, not only were people distracted, but they put themselves at risk for longer periods of time. Talking on a phone and other distractions delayed a person’s trip to the other side of the road by 1.5 seconds, and texting was even worse, with such persons typically taking two additional seconds to cross than persons who weren’t distracted. And with nearly 30% of people engaging in some sort of distracting activity, these delays are far more common than one would hope.