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1 in 3 pedestrians distracted by cellphones, study says

When Toronto police Constable Clint Stibbe warned pedestrians of the dangers of wearing dark clothing this week after eight people in the city were separately hit by vehicles within one hour, he might have added one more word of caution – this time about the perils of using cellphones while walking.

According to the BBC, a new study has found nearly one in three pedestrians use their mobile phones while crossing the road.

The study, which tracked 1,000 people crossing intersections in Seattle, found 10 per cent were listening to music, 7 per cent were texting, and 6 per cent were speaking on their phones.

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Those listening to music crossed the street more quickly than those not using their mobile devices, but they tended to not look both ways before stepping off the curb. Texters were four times more likely to ignore a red light, and they took two seconds longer to make it across intersections, the BBC said.

Recognizing the dangers of walking while using cellphones, inventors have come up with high-tech solutions, such as the WalkSafe app by researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the University of Bologna, Italy. The app uses the camera on the back of one's phone to sense oncoming cars, then alerts the user with a buzz or chirping noise. But of course, there is a far simpler and more reliable solution: Put the phone away and pay attention to where you're going.

"Looking properly when you are walking is as important as when you are driving, so take care not to be dangerously distracted, whether by mobile phones, listening to music or being caught up in conversations with other people," Kevin Clinton of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents told the BBC.

Admit it: Are you among the one in three who use their phones while crossing the street?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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