Effect of cell phone distraction on pediatric pedestrian injury risk

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE. Early adolescents are using cell phones with increasing frequency. Cell phones are known to distract motor vehicle drivers to the point that their safety is jeopardized, but it is unclear if cell phones might also distract child pedestrians. This study was designed to examine the influence of talking on a cell phone for pediatric pedestrian injury risk. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS. Seventy-seven children aged 10 to 11 years old completed simulated road crossings in an immersive, interactive virtual pedestrian environment. In a within-subjects design, children crossed the virtual street 6 times while undistracted and 6 times while distracted by a cell phone conversation with an unfamiliar research assistant. Participants also completed several other experimental tasks hypothesized to predict the impact of distraction while crossing the street and talking on a cell phone. RESULTS. Children's pedestrian safety was compromised when distracted by a cell phone conversation. While distracted, children were less attentive to traffic;left less safe time between their crossing and the next arriving vehicle;experienced more collisions and close calls with oncoming traffic;and waited longer before beginning to cross the street. Analyses testing experience using a cell phone and experience as a pedestrian yielded few significant results, suggesting that distraction on the cell phone might affect children's pedestrian safety no matter what their experience level. There was some indication that younger children and children who are lessattentive and more oppositional may be slightly more susceptible to distraction while talking on the cell phone than older, more attentive, and less oppositional children. Copyright © 2009 bythe American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Published In

  • Pediatrics  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Stavrinos D; Byington KW; Schwebel DC
  • Volume

  • 123
  • Issue

  • 2