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In the UBC study, led by engineers, two cameras were mounted at pedestrian crossing intersections monitoring the movement of over 350 pedestrians over a two-day period. Observations from the study found that over a third of those who crossed the intersection were distracted by their phones while texting, reading, and talking. In turn, this distraction led to pedestrians crossing slower and moving unsteadily to the other side of the street.
The study is a key factor in the development of self-automated vehicles. As distracted pedestrians may contribute to unpredictable reaction time, the study suggests that further research is needed to properly implement this behavior into the function of automated vehicles.
Detailed research findings and statistics are found in “Assessing the Effect of Pedestrians’ Use of Cell Phones on Their Walking Behavior: A Study Based on Automated Video Analysis,” which is available for download from the Transportation Research Record.