Texting, music put distracted pedestrians at risk

9:49 PM, Dec 12, 2012   |    comments
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The University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital released their findings Wednesday. But, you don't have to go far to test the research.

On any given day, the 16th street mall is busy with people getting off and on the bus, dining at restaurants and shopping. If you wait at any corner long enough, it's likely that you'll see people walking across the street, texting, talking or using their phone in some way.

Dr. Aaron Richmond, Associate Professor of Psychology at Metro State University, says multitasking while walking across the street is dangerous for several reasons.

"We always say that we can divide our attention and its great, but it's all from one pool of ability and that just means your attention is not very good at both tasks," Dr. Richmond said. "It's likely due to a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness."

Richmond likens walking and using a phone to using a computer. He says when you open a lot of browser windows on your computer it's likely it will slow down. The same thing is true, he says, for people who are distracted by their phone; their mind slows down and they're not concentrating on the task at hand.

"Multitasking is something we all do. We all have to do it, but that doesn't mean we're good at it. These people are distracted because they are really focused on the task of texting or answering an e-mail or whatever the task may be and they're not paying attention to their surroundings," Dr. Richmond said.

It's a common danger that Richmond hopes people start to be more aware of because being hit by a car is something that can happen at any time.

More on this study

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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