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Cell phone use may be walking safety risk

Cell phone use may be walking safety risk
(UPI Photo Files) | License Photo

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A University of Illinois study of pedestrian safety has found using a cell phone while walking can endanger one's health.

The study involved people crossing a virtual street while either talking on the phone or listening to music. The scientists said they discovered music-listeners were able to navigate traffic as well as the average unencumbered pedestrian. But users of hands-free cell phones, however, took longer to cross the same street under the same conditions and were more likely to get run over by a vehicle.

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"Many people assume that walking is so automatic that really nothing will get in the way," said psychology Professor Art Kramer, who led the research with Professor Jason McCarley and postdoctoral researcher Mark Neider. "But actually walking in environments that have lots of obstacles is perhaps not as automatic as one might think."

The study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, found college-age adults who were talking on a cell phone took 25 percent longer to cross the street than their peers who were not on the phone. They were also more likely to fail to cross the street in the 30 seconds allotted for the task, even though their peers were able to do so.

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A second study that focused on adults 60 years or older has not yet been published.

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