Distraction - How does distraction affect cyclist and pedestrian behaviour?


Research shows that cyclists who converse on the phone or text, cycle at a lower average speed, more often miss relevant matters and more often exhibit dangerous behaviour (such as cycling in the wrong direction, , crossing an intersection with poor visibility of approaching traffic without braking or looking around first). Texting appears to affect cycling behaviour most. Cyclists who are texting cycle more towards the middle of the cycle path and are more unsteady than when they are not texting. When texting, cyclists less often look around, and also look at the cycle track less often and for a shorter period of time [40]. Furthermore cyclists themselves experience texting as the most dangerous activity [9].

Cyclists listening to music often miss important auditory information from traffic around them (a bicycle bell, horn), particularly those cyclists who are using in-ear headphones[i] or listening to loud or up-tempo music [24].It has been observed that cyclists listening to music more often display behaviour that violates traffic rules or other unsafe behaviour (e.g. jumping traffic lights, cycling in the wrong direction, or using the pedestrian crossing) [41]. Listening to music does not appear to affect cycling speed, lateral position or glance behaviour.


Pedestrians using a phone while walking display less safe (crossing) behaviour: they are more careless, take longer to cross the road, or cross when a car is approaching [42]. Particularly phoning and texting lead to less safe behaviour, whereas listening to music affects behaviour to a lesser extent [12] [43]. Texting pedestrians walk more slowly, deviate from a straight walking path line and are more unsteady [44]; they also bump into something or someone more often, while someone else also bumps into them more often [12].

[i] In-ear phones are earphones placed in the auditory duct.


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