We all know that using cell phones can be dangerous when you are driving, but what about when you are walking? A study from the University of Alabama in February’s edition of “Pediatrics” found that “children’s pedestrian safety is compromised when they are distracted by a cell phone conversation,” and most would agree this translates to teenagers as well.
“Effect of Cell Phone Distraction on Pediatric Pedestrian Injury Risk” is the first study to find links between cell phone distraction and pedestrian risk-taking among young people.
According to the study, “crossing the street is a highly complex cognitive and perceptual task.” This is why talking on the phone and crossing a street at the same time is so dangerous.
Much like driving and talking on the cell phone, your attention is taken away from the task at hand and can have a huge effect on your ability to multitask. Distractions (including talking/texting on the cell phone) rank number three on the list of major risk factors for teenage drivers. Part of this is due to lack of experience, which is the same case with adolescents crossing the street.
This is something we didn’t think of before, but distractions are on both sides of the road. Those both driving and walking have the potential to be distracted by cell phones, making, what could be, a deadly mix.
According to the study, young people “may have not developed the cognitive and perceptual skills necessary to simultaneously perceive and process the distance, speed, and acceleration patterns of vehicles.”
The results of the study showed that young people:
- Paid less attention to traffic,
- Left less “safe time” between their crossing and the next vehicle,
- Had more close calls and collisions with oncoming traffic, and
- Waited longer before beginning to cross the street.
Why does it matter?
This new information means that adolescent pedestrians aren’t nearly as attentive as they need to be. This has the potential to be a deadly combination if coupled with distracted driving. Don’t assume pedestrians are paying any more attention than you are.