Plight of the distracted pedestrian: a research synthesis and meta-analysis of mobile phone use on crossing behaviour

Simmons, S. M., Caird, J. K., Ta, A., Sterzer, F., & Hagel, B. E.
BMJ Publishing Group Ltd

The purpose of this meta-analysis was to determine the extent to which cell phone use (i.e., talking, texting, browsing, and listening to music) affect pedestrian walking and street-crossing behaviours. A total of twenty-two studies were included in the analysis, including 14 experimental studies and eight observational studies.

A keyword search was developed with a subject librarian and used in a formal search of PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, Medline and TRID in June 2017. Studies had to include at least one of five measures related to walking and street crossing to be eligible for inclusion. These measures were initiation duration (i.e., time taken to start walking or being crossing), missed opportunities (i.e., safe crossing opportunities the pedestrian could have taken but chose not to take), crossing duration (i.e., the amount of time taken to cross a street), looking left and right, and hits and close calls (i.e., collisions and near misses between pedestrians and vehicles).

Both talking on a cell phone and texting or browsing were associated with small and moderate increases in initiation duration. Pedestrians talking, texting, or browsing on a cell phone tended to wait longer before crossing the street. Talking on a cell phone was associated with more missed safe-crossing opportunities, whereas texting or browsing did not impact these opportunities. No cell phone tasks were associated with a change in crossing duration. Texting or browsing significantly reduced participants looking to the left or right prior to crossing the street, however talking on a cell phone had no impact. Lastly, talking on a cell phone had a small increase in rates of hits and close calls. Texting or browsing was associated with a moderate increase in rates of hits and close calls. Listening to music did not have an impact on any of the five measures.

Reference

Simmons, S. M., Caird, J. K., Ta, A., Sterzer, F., & Hagel, B. E. (2020). Plight of the distracted pedestrian: a research synthesis and meta-analysis of mobile phone use on crossing behaviour. Injury prevention, 26(2), 170-176.