Assessing the effect of pedestrians’ use of cell phones on their walking behavior: A study based on automated video analysis

Alsaleh, R., Sayed, T., & Zaki, M. H.
SAGE Publications

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of cell phone use while walking at urban crosswalks. The effects of distraction type, talking/listening or texting/reading, on pedestrian-vehicle interactions were examined. Pedestrian tracking was used to analyze trajectories and speed profiles. This was performed using video footage from a system that automatically detects, tracks, and classifies road users in traffic scenes.

The study site was a busy four-leg intersection located in British Columbia, Canada. Video footage was collected in daylight on April 4th and 5th, 2016. A total of 357 pedestrian trajectories were captured. There were 136 trajectories of distracted pedestrians and 221 non-distracted pedestrians. Most (86%) pedestrians were young adults and 58% were male. Nearly 38% of pedestrians performed a distraction activity while crossing the street. Texting/reading was the most common distraction (25%) followed by talking/listening (11.5%).

When compared to non-distracted participants, participants who were texting/reading had a statistically significant slower average walking speed and shorter average step length. Pedestrians talking/listening had a statistically significant slower average walking speed compared with non-distracted participants. Further, distracted pedestrians involved in interactions with approaching vehicles reduced and controlled their walking speeds by adjusting their step frequency.


Alsaleh, R., Sayed, T., & Zaki, M. H. (2018). Assessing the Effect of Pedestrians’ Use of Cell Phones on Their Walking Behavior: A Study Based on Automated Video Analysis. Transportation research record, 2672(35), 46-57.