Distracted Pedestrian Behavior on two Urban College Campuses

Academic Article


  • Pedestrian injuries injure about 180,000 individuals and kill 6000 each year in the United States, and pedestrian injury rates have increased each of the last several years. Distracted pedestrian behavior may play a role in the trend of increasing risk for pedestrian injury. Using in vivo behavioral coding over the course of two¬†weeks on two urban college campuses, this study aimed to (1) understand the type and rate of distractions engaged in by pedestrians on urban college campuses, and (2) investigate the impact of distraction on street-crossing safety and behavior. A total of 10,543 pedestrians were observed, 90% of them young adults. Over one-third of those pedestrians were distracted while actively crossing roadways. Headphones were the most common distraction (19% of all pedestrians), followed by text-messaging (8%) and talking on the phone (5%). Women were more likely to text and talk on the phone than men, and men were more likely to be wearing headphones. Distracted pedestrians were somewhat less likely to look for traffic when they entered roadways. As handheld device usage continues to increase, behavioral interventions should be developed and implemented. Changes to policy concerning distracted pedestrian behavior, including improvement of the built environment to reduce pedestrian risk, should be considered in busy pedestrian areas like urban college campuses.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wells HL; McClure LA; Porter BE; Schwebel DC
  • Start Page

  • 96
  • End Page

  • 102
  • Volume

  • 43
  • Issue

  • 1