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Cells: street crossing risk for adolescents
Detail: A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics finds that talking on a cell phone while trying to cross the street can be dangerous for young adolescents. There is a sharp increase in cell phones among American schoolchildren—54 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds will have cell phones by the end of this year, double the rate in 2006.

Researchers studied 77 children ages 10 and 11, on a "virtual reality" road, to see what effect cell phone conversations had on their ability to make it across the street safety. Crossing a street is a complex task involving judgment and the ability to assess speed, distance of cars and the time needed to cross the pavement. Each child crossed the road 12 times, six times with the distraction of a cell phone conversation, six times without. The study found that all children in the study were more distracted when talking on their cell and crossing the street. When children were on the cell phones, their attention to traffic, the number of times a participant looked right or left, went down 20 percent. A delay in starting across the street right after a car passed went up 20 percent. The risk of getting hit by a car, or the number of close calls (coming within one second of getting hit) went up 43 percent.

The study, however, did not address the issue of teens texting while walking, which also causes many accidents, some of them fatal, after people walked into traffic, or fell off a curb, while texting. The researchers concluded that just as drivers should limit cell phone use while behind the wheel, so too should pedestrians, especially child pedestrians who are clearly at greater risk while walking and talking.
Source: Based on a story by Lisa Stark, “Cell Phones Pose Danger in the Crosswalk”, January 26, 2009, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=6732093&page=1
Date: February 4 2009