Study: Distracted Pedestrians Have Greater Risk of Injury

Posted on August 17, 2011

Findings from a recent study indicate that distractions like talking on the phone, texting and listening to music put pedestrians at greater risk of being struck by a motor vehicle while crossing the street, report news outlets.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham study, conducted in a virtual-environment lab, focused on quantifying the dangers of distracting activities. Researchers asked more than 125 subjects to cross a two-lane street on which vehicles were traveling at 30 mph while the subjects participated in various activities. Researchers tested subjects, all students, under different scenarios, including crossing the street without distractions, while talking on a mobile phone, while texting, and while listening to music with ear buds.

As researchers expected, pedestrians talking on the phone were twice as likely to be hit than undistracted pedestrians (12 percent compared to 6 percent), and pedestrians who were texting were twice as likely to be struck (up to 25 percent) than those talking on the phone. However, researchers were stunned to discover that of the pedestrians listening to music with ear buds, one in three was likely to come to harm while crossing the street.

Researchers surmised that people use their sense of hearing to assist in crossing the street more than they realized, and that by distracting their ears, pedestrians increase their risk of failing to cross a street safely. The study findings appear online in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I encourage pedestrians and motorists a like to stay safe by keeping distractions to a minimum while out and about.

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