Do you look both ways before crossing the street? Not likely, reports a team of researchers at the University of Washington. They observed the behavior of more than 1,000 people as they crossed 20 high-risk intersections in Seattle during the summer of 2012. Only 25 percent of walkers looked both ways before crossing. Nearly one-third of the pedestrians were listening to music, texting or talking on the phone. Texting pedestrians were 3.9 times more likely than undistracted pedestrians to cross against the light, cross mid-intersection or fail to look both ways. Pedestrians who were listening to music walked more quickly but were less likely than others to look both ways before crossing. The researchers also reported that people with pets or children were almost three times less likely to look both ways before crossing. They noted that all of this distracted behavior helps account for accidents that injure more than 60,000 pedestrians per year and kill more than 4,000. The study was published online on December 13, 2012 by the journal Injury Prevention.
Beth E. Ebel et al, “Impact of social and technological distraction on pedestrian crossing behaviour: an observational study”, Injury Prevention. Accessed December 26, 2012, doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2012-040601