Most of the walkers were alone and crossed when the light was green and at an intersection. Only one in four, however, observed all the safety rules, including looking both ways before crossing, they noted.
Slightly less than 30 percent of the pedestrians were doing something else when crossing the street. Eleven percent were listening to music, 7 percent were texting and 6 percent were talking on the phone, the researchers found.
People distracted by some of these activities took almost a second and a half longer to cross the road. Although listening to music quickened the time it took to cross the road, people were less likely to look both ways before crossing.
People dealing with pets or children were almost three times less likely to look both ways.
Texting, however, was the most risky behavior. People who were doing it took almost two seconds longer to cross the street than those who weren't, the researchers found.
In the United States, accidents involving pedestrians and cars injure more than 60,000 people a year, and kill more than 4,000, the researchers noted.
One expert thinks that although this study didn't account for the role of these distractions in actual injuries or deaths, it stands to reason that distracted walking is potentially dangerous.
"While there are limitations and it is all observational data, this supports common sense and my bias related to distractions while walking," said Dr. Carl Schulman, director of injury prevention education at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"Of course it can't go so far as to prove that this poor behavior leads to increased crash and injury risk," he said. "But I don't think it takes a leap of faith to get there."
For more on pedestrian safety, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<
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