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For the first time, a new study examines how cell phone usage distracts preadolescent children while crossing the street. In “Effects of Cell Phone Distraction on Pediatric Pedestrian Injury Risk,” researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham used data from children aged 10 to 11 years in simulated road crossings in an interactive, virtual pedestrian environment. Distraction was only by cell phone conversation with a research assistant, not by other commonly used devices such as portable audio players or text messaging. Results indicate that when distracted, children were less attentive to traffic, left less time between themselves and the next oncoming vehicle, and were involved in more collisions and near misses. While cell phones offer convenience and safety to families, the study authors indicate that pedestrians – especially children – are likely to be more distracted than adults, and should limit cell phone use while crossing the street.

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