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Prevalence of distracted walking with mobile technology: an observational study of Calgary and Edmonton high school students

  • Phillip QuonEmail author
  • Kelcie Lahey
  • Mackenzie Grisdale
  • Brent Hagel
  • George Frost
  • Kathy Belton
  • April Elliott
Quantitative Research
  • 64 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

Distracted walking poses a safety concern while crossing roads. A 2014 Canadian survey showed that 51% of teenagers were hit or almost hit while crossing the street, many of whom were distracted by mobile technology. An American study demonstrated that 1 in 5 high school students engaged in distracted walking; however, prevalence estimates in Canada have not been described. This study aimed to obtain a prevalence estimate of distracted walking in high school students in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Methods

Students were observed crossing the street at 20 high schools following afternoon school dismissal times during September to November 2017. Behaviours included talking on mobile phone, using earbuds, looking down at phone, and engaging in more than one of these behaviours. Also recorded were median household income of surrounding neighbourhood, outside temperature, gender, and crosswalk type.

Results

A total of 3553 students were observed, with 666 engaged in distracted walking (18.7%). Females engaged in distracted walking more than males (19.9% vs. 17.6%, respectively). The most prevalent behaviour was using earbuds (66.5%). Males had a lower prevalence of distracted walking compared with females. Distracted walking was more prevalent when the temperature was above 10 °C compared with less than 0 °C and less prevalent at signaled compared with non-signaled intersections.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that approximately 1 in 5 high school students in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, engage in distracted walking behaviours while crossing the street. These results may help raise awareness and inform policy to decrease risk of pedestrian injury.

Keywords

Public health Urban population 

Résumé

Objectifs

La distraction des piétons pose un danger pour leur sécurité quand ils traversent la rue. Selon une enquête canadienne menée en 2014, plus de la moitié (51%) des adolescents s’étaient fait frapper ou presque frapper en traversant, et beaucoup d’entre eux étaient distraits par un appareil mobile. Une étude américaine a montré qu’un élève du secondaire sur cinq est distrait en marchant, mais il n’existe pas d’estimations de prévalence pour le Canada. Notre étude visait à obtenir une estimation de prévalence de la distraction des piétons parmi les élèves du secondaire de Calgary et d’Edmonton (Alberta), au Canada.

Méthode

De septembre à novembre 2017, nous avons observé les élèves de 20 écoles secondaires en train de traverser la rue à la fin des classes de l’après-midi. Nous les avons vus parler sur un téléphone mobile, porter des mini-écouteurs, regarder leur téléphone et avoir plusieurs de ces comportements à la fois. Nous avons aussi enregistré : le revenu médian des ménages du quartier environnant, la température extérieure, le sexe et le type d’intersection.

Résultats

Sur les 3553 élèves observés, 666 (18,7 %) étaient distraits en marchant. Les filles étaient plus distraites que les garçons (19,9 % contre 17,6 %). Le comportement le plus prévalent était le port de mini-écouteurs (66,5 %). La distraction en marchant était moins prévalente chez les garçons que chez les filles. Elle était plus prévalente quand la température était supérieure à 10 °C que lorsqu’elle était inférieure à 0 °C, et moins prévalente aux intersections avec feux qu’aux intersections sans feux.

Conclusion

Notre étude montre qu’environ un élève du secondaire sur cinq de Calgary et d’Edmonton (Alberta) au Canada présente un ou plusieurs comportements de distraction en traversant la rue. Les résultats obtenus peuvent contribuer à sensibiliser le public et à éclairer les politiques visant à réduire les risques de blessures chez les piétons.

Mots-clés

Santé publique Population urbaine 

Notes

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Paediatrics, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.O’Brien Institute of Public Health, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Injury Prevention CentreUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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