Talking walkers face risks; Studies show pedestrians on hands-free phones

Greetings!  I’m Nico Trimoff, manager of transcription and accessibility services at
Today, I have a very interesting article to share with you to close off our week.  One that has a message for walkers.
I wish you a terrific day.

A newspaper article
Talking walkers face risks; Studies show pedestrians on hands-free phones
have a tougher time navigating traffic and run higher risk of Getting hit
Andrea Gordon
The Toronto Star , Nov. 18, 2009
It may be the modern version of walking and chewing gum at the same time.
But walking and talking on a hands-free cellphone is a lot more risky,
according to researchers at the University of Illinois.
Two new studies found that pedestrians engaged in hands-free cellphone
conversations had more difficulty navigating traffic and ran a higher risk
of getting hit by a vehicle.
“We assume that walking is very automatic, and it is,” said lead researcher
Art Kramer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.
“But walking while scanning for pedestrians and cyclists and other vehicles
is less automatic.”
Add a Bluetooth-style earpiece and it makes too many distractions to manage
Listening to iPods, however, did not increase danger, Kramer said.
The first study, published in the current edition of the journal Accident
Analysis and Prevention, involved 36 young adults walking on a treadmill in
a virtual streetscape environment.
Those walking while they talked on a hands-free cellphone took 25 per cent
longer to cross the street than peers without phones. They were also more
likely to take longer to cross than the 30 seconds designated for the task.
The second study, involving adults aged 60 and older walking in the
simulator, showed more striking differences.
Those on phones were hit by virtual vehicles 15 per cent more often and fell
more frequently, Kramer said in an interview.
That study has not yet been published.
Neither group showed increased safety risks while listening to music, even
though many members of the older group didn’t use iPods regularly. 
Kramer, an expert on driver distraction, says that’s because listening to
familiar music doesn’t demand the same attention and concentration as
engaging in a conversation.
He said the studies provide more evidence in the quest to understand the
real-world impact of humans multi-tasking using technology.
Kramer’s bottom line: pedestrians should think twice about when and where
they use their cellphones.
“I wouldn’t if I was walking across a busy street in Manhattan.”
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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