Psychology: Interdisciplinary Research in Behavioral Sciences of Transportation Issues

Home Institution, City, State

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA



Publication Date

Summer 2021


Distracted pedestrians, those talking or texting on phones as examples, are potentially at risk when crossing urban intersections. They may lack traffic awareness of risk as distracted drivers often do. The transportation field has limited data on distracted pedestrians. This study aimed to contribute to the literature by observing pedestrian behaviors at four urban-area, downtown crosswalks over five weeks in June-July 2021. Overall, 2,055 pedestrians were observed, with 25.4% being distracted. Common distractions were texting, talking on a cell phone, and using headphones. Chi-square analyses found that while distraction did not predict looking left, one behavior that keeps them out of harm’s way in the United States, women who were distracted looked left less often than men, an atypical gender difference in the traffic safety literature. These and other results are discussed in terms of the next steps for increasing pedestrian safety.


Distractracted Pedestrians, Looking Left, Crosswalks, Unsafe Behavior


Community-Based Research | Community Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Health Psychology | Other Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Tourism



Download Poster (23.9 MB)

Download REU Executive Summary_Distracted_Pedestrians_Looking_Left_2021.docx (25 KB)

Distracted Pedestrians: Looking Left?



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.