Pedestrians who are using their phones cross the street at a slower pace than others, a new study has found, a behavior that may increase their risk of being hit by a car.
Regardless of whether they’re talking on the phone or texting, distracted pedestrians using phones take smaller steps and walk in a more erratic fashion when crossing the street than those who aren’t on their phones, the study found.
Researchers used a system of automated video analysis to examine the movements of 357 pedestrians crossing a busy four-way intersection near a university in Kamloops, British Columbia, over the course of two days of good weather in April, 2016.
Nearly 38 percent of the pedestrians were using their cellphones while crossing the street, with most of them texting or reading. The paper was published in Transportation Research Record.
Crossing a street slowly increases the risk to a pedestrian, said Tarek Sayed, the paper’s senior author and a professor of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “The longer you are in the crosswalk, the longer you are exposed to potential conflicts and collisions,” he said. Texting also takes cognitive effort and limits visual sensory input, which can impair balance and lead to falls, he said.
Dr. Sayed’s advice for people who cross the street while talking or texting was simple: “Don’t do it.”