Campus News / Columns

WPU Professor Reveals Research on “Texting & Walking”

The number of pedestrians crossing intersections while distracted by electronic devices is dangerously high, according to research by Dr. Corey Basch, William Paterson University’s associate professor of Public Health.

Basch studied more than 21,000 pedestrians at five dangerous and busy Manhattan intersections and discovered that nearly half crossing on a “DON’T WALK” signal and nearly one-third of pedestrians crossing on a “WALK” signal were wearing headphones, talking on a mobile phone, and/or looking down at an electronic device. Through her research, she saw that headphone use was a big issue in the city because it impairs the person’s ability to realize important audible warnings.

“It came as a surprise that there were so many pedestrians distracted by technology during the walk signal, but the fact that there were even more distracted by technology crossing on a ‘don’t walk’ signal is astonishing,” said Basch. “It’s clearly a public health concern given that these intersections are incredibly busy and have been singled out as being dangerous.

The same issues can occur at WPU when students walk across campus wearing headphones.

“The real issue is while they are walking through a parking lot, with so many moving cars, it’s not a good place to be distracted while walking,” she said.

Although she hasn’t researched exact results about the technology use at WPU, she hinted that “if you pause for a moment and look around campus, and most places for that matter, you will see many pedestrians distracted by some form of technology.”

Students at WPU agree that the use of technology on campus while walking can be a big issue.

“It’s a dangerous in terms of paying attention to lights while on your phone and if someone is trying to get your attention if you have your music (on) loud,” said Marte Emogene, a communication disorders major. “I do it occasionally and catch myself and say, ‘Wait I should stop.’ Even if it’s just me walking up and down stairs. I can text later without harming myself.”

Sarah Smith, another student, said, “I don’t mind when students walk around campus while using devices, I do it. However, in the streets it should be limited with all the cars around campus it can be dangerous.”

Carlos O. Cano, an admissions counselor at WPU, didn’t agree either.

“I think that students with their heads buried on their phones as they are walking is certainly not the best thing,” he said. “I’ve seen people run into others, run into doors, poles.”

Basch made it clear that safety should come first and that there is nothing important on your phone that you needs to compromise your safety.

“Given the growing number of accidents as a result of distracted walking, “said Basch, “students should be aware that this could easily happen to them.”

You can read Dr. Corey Basch’s full research here:


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