Pedestrians, vehicles, and cell phones

Mark Neider, Jason McCarley, James Crowell, Henry Kaczmarski, Arthur Kramer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    167 Citations (Scopus)


    With cellular phones and portable music players becoming a staple in everyday life, questions have arisen regarding the attentional deficits that might occur when such devices are used while performing other tasks. Here, we used a street-crossing task in an immersive virtual environment to test how this sort of divided attention affects pedestrian behavior when crossing a busy street. Thirty-six participants navigated through a series of unsigned intersections by walking on a manual treadmill in a virtual environment. While crossing, participants were undistracted, engaged in a hands free cell phone conversation, or listening to music on an iPod. Pedestrians were less likely to successfully cross the road when conversing on a cell phone than when listening to music, even though they took more time to initiate their crossing when conversing on a cell phone (∼1.5 s). This success rate difference was driven largely by failures to cross the road in the allotted trial time period (30 s), suggesting that when conversing on a cell phone pedestrians are less likely to recognize and act on crossing opportunities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)589-594
    Number of pages6
    JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


    • Attention
    • Cell phones
    • Distraction
    • Dual-task
    • Pedestrian safety


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