The effect of environmental distractions on child pedestrian’s crossing behavior

A new publication co-authored by Dr. Hagai Tapiro and Prof. Yisrael Parmet.

So often are we reminded about distraction from devices, cell phones or earphones. Yet, the environment we walk in can also have a detrimental effect on our road crossing safety. In this study we show that:

  • Distractions in the road environment put pedestrians at risk when crossing the road.
  • Pedestrian’s visual attention is affected by the façade of the street.
  • Younger children are at higher risk when distracted.
  • Visual distractions are more detrimental than auditory distractions.

Abstract: Pedestrians are subject to an increasing number of stimuli and distractions derived from the roadside environment. Although the effect of distractions on child road crossing ability was recognized, there has been no systematic exploration of the effects of roadside distractions on child road crossing behavior. This work was aimed at studying the effect of roadside distractions on pedestrian road crossing behavior, focusing on elementary school-aged children, who are less capable of making a safe road crossing decision and are more vulnerable to the effect of distractions. Three types of audio distractions (a. sudden, momentary, and prominent noise, b. multiplicity of auditory elements, and c. continuous loud noise) and similar three types of visual distractions were pre-defined. Fifty-two children (aged 7–13) and adults arrived at the dome virtual reality laboratory and viewed 20 simulated crossing scenarios, embedded with visual and auditory distractions, and decided on the appropriate time to start crossing the virtual road. The results demonstrate that when exposed to environmental distractions, participants chose smaller crossing gaps, took more time to make crossing decisions, were slower to respond to the crossing opportunity, and allocated less visual attention to the peripheral regions of the road. Those effects were age related, and affected younger participants more significantly. Furthermore, visual distractions affected pedestrian behavior more than auditory type distractions. This study highlights an issue not yet adequately addressed, and the results should be considered by transportation professionals, and road safety educators, so better road safety programs to educate children can be created.

Link to the manuscript: Anyone clicking on this link before May 19, 2018 will be taken directly to the final version of your article on ScienceDirect. No sign up, registration or fees are required – they can simply click and read.
https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1Wobl3IVV9Z8ir

 

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