Texting while walking really is very dangerous, says new study

Texting while walking across a busy intersection is a bad idea and this fact, that we probably already knew but ignored, has been confirmed by a study published in the journal Injury Prevention.

Researchers conducting the study staked out 20 busy intersections in Seattle and watched 1,102 pedestrians cross at different times of day. One-third of those observed were distracted in some way, which could include listening to music, texting or talking on a cell phone.

The texters, however, were at the greatest danger: “Texting pedestrians took 1.87 additional seconds (18.0%) to cross the average intersection (3.4 lanes), compared to undistracted pedestrians,” the study found. “Texting pedestrians were 3.9 times more likely than undistracted pedestrians to display at least one unsafe crossing behaviour (disobeying the lights, crossing mid-intersection, or failing to look both ways).”

Pedestrians listening to music actually waked across the intersection faster than undistracted pedestrians, the study found.

In the U.S., more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed every year and at least 70,000 are injured. In Canada, an average of 363 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes every year between 2004-2006.

While at least one report says lower urban speed limits could prevent injury and death, it looks like cutting back on the texting while walking could make pedestrians a lot safer, too.

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