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Road crossers distracted by mobile phones

BY: Abigail Bonsu

Almost one in every three pedestrians crossing the road are using their mobile phone, a US study suggests.

Of more than 1,000 people crossing 20 different roads in Seattle, 10% were listening to music, seven per cent were texting and six per cent were having conversations, on phones the journal Injury Prevention reports.

The texters were four times more likely to ignore red lights or fail to look both ways before crossing.

And they took almost two seconds longer to cross a three to four lane junction.

Listening to music speeded up the time taken to cross the road, but those that were doing it were less likely to look both ways before crossing.

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Kevin Clinton, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Looking properly when you are walking is as important as when you are driving, so take care not to be dangerously distracted, whether by mobile phones, listening to music or being caught up in conversations with other people.

"Being able to use all of your senses while you are on the road is important and using mobile phones can, of course, be distracting. It is important to be aware when interacting with traffic."

The Department of Transport estimates there was a 5% rise in the numbers of pedestrian casualties in the year from June 2011.

Edmund King, from the AA, said: "There have been tragic deaths through people forgetting their immediate spatial environment.

"This study confirms that millions of pedestrian, cycling and driving mobile device zombies can be tuned into the wrong thing at the wrong time - road users need to be tuned into what's a happening around them."

The authors of the study, from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Centre in Seattle, said: "Ultimately a shift in normative attitudes about pedestrian behaviour, similar to efforts around drunk-driving, will be important to limit the risk of mobile device use."