Texting While Walking Increases The Risk Of Getting Hit By Cars, Latest Study Shows

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Distracted drivers are usually responsible for lots of collisions in B.C., but a recent study shows that there’s also a high risk coming from distracted walking.

The study out of UBC suggests people who walk and text at the same time will walk slower and less steadily and this increases the risk of getting hit by a car.

Engineers used automated video analysis in order to examine the movements and walking behavior of pedestrians at a busy four-way intersection in Kamloops.

They analyzed 357 pedestrians in two days via mounted cameras.

“We found that more than a third of pedestrians were distracted by their cellphones – texting and reading or talking and listening,” said lead author Rushdi Alsaleh.

“Distracted pedestrians had more trouble maintaining their walking speed and gait and took longer to cross the road, increasing the potential for conflict with vehicles.”

The movements of such distracted people were also different depending on how they were using their devices.

People who were texting or reading took shorter steps without slowing their step frequency, and the ones who were talking on the phone took slower steps without changing the length of their strides.

Autonomous vehicles 

The results are also able to help keep pedestrians safe when it comes to driverless cars, according to Alsaleh.

The lead author of the study said that an autonomous car could be programmed to recognize distracted pedestrians from their walking patterns, and appropriate evasive actions to avoid an accident.

“Our research is focused on explaining how accidents occur on roads by better modeling the behavior of people and cars on the road,” stated Tarek Sayed, a civil engineering professor at UBC.

“We hope that our methods can be used to calibrate pedestrian simulation programs more accurately, helping planners to build safer roads and engineers to design smarter autonomous vehicles,” he concluded.


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