142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Distracted walking among teens and pre-teens: An analysis of 34,325 observations of students crossing in school zones

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Rennie Ferguson, MHS, CPH , Research Department, Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC
Zhe Xu, MPH , George Washington University, Washington, DC
Kristin Rosenthal, MEd, MCHES , Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC
No large-scale observational studies have explored the prevalence of distracted walking among teenagers and pre-teens. The purpose of this research is to determine the percentage of teenagers and pre-teens crossing the street in front of schools while using mobile devices in a sample of U.S. communities. The definition of distraction used for this study was dividing one’s attention or focus because of the use of an electronic device. Safe Kids coalitions in 24 communities recorded 34,325 observations of teens and pre-teens crossing streets in school zones in fall 2012 and spring 2013. 19,395 were of students from 48 middle schools, and 14,930 were of students from 20 high schools. Distraction was observed in 20% of high school observations and 12% of middle school observations. The most frequent forms of distraction were texting (39% of distracted observations), wearing headphones (39%), and talking on the phone (20%). Using logistic regression models, the authors found that the odds of a girl crossing the street distracted were 1.2 times greater than the odds of for a boy and that the odds of a student being distracted were 26% higher if there was a traffic light device present. There was not a statistically significant difference in distraction between the fall and spring periods. Given that teens represent a growing proportion of children who die from pedestrian injuries each year, education and awareness about distraction and the risk of pedestrian injuries among teens and pre-teens is increasingly important.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe patterns of mobile device use while crossing the street among middle and high-school students.

Keyword(s): Violence & Injury Prevention, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the field of childhood injury for almost five years, as a researcher and as an educator. I am currently an injury epidemiologist at Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit focused on reducing preventable childhood injuries. I previously worked at the National Capital Poison Center as an educator and program associate.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.