Pedestrian smartphone distraction: prevalence and potential severity

Timothy Horberry, Rachel Osborne, Kristie Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


To better understand the incidence and potential severity of pedestrian smartphone distraction in a city location, a non-invasive observational study was conducted in Melbourne, Australia. Video recordings of pedestrians crossing roads at eight city sites were undertaken during daytime conditions. Data were analysed both for pedestrian use of different smartphone functions such as hand-held calls, and for ‘critical events’ such as crossing the road at a prohibited time. The results found that, on average, 20% of pedestrians were using their smartphones when crossing roads, significantly more critical events occurred with smartphone users compared to non-smartphone users, and that the pattern of critical events was different for smartphone and non-smartphone users. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of further research and potential countermeasures to minimise the occurrence, or impact, of pedestrian distraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Distraction
  • Mobile phones
  • Observations
  • Pedestrians
  • Smartphones

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