In the past decade, the world has experienced significant development in mobile technology. Mobile phones are known to be used for multiple purposes; apart from making calls, mobile devices can send text messages, check emails, and play games, among other activities. However, how, when, and where mobile devices are used pose significant challenges. The authors in this article were motivated by how mobile devices are used. The authors hoped to identify the impacts of cell phone and text message conversations on a simulated street crossing.
Prior research by Schwebel et al. (2012) evaluated the implications of multimedia distractions such as texting on pedestrian safety through a simulator.
In Schwebel et al. (2012)’s research, the case was not clear as they relied on a fixed crossing speed and the use of a computerized avatar that completed the street crossing. This gives the current research a clear starting point as it relies on a treadmill attached to the immersive virtual setting to cross the street. This aspect made the participant responsible for their unique gaits when selecting gaps and the different walking speed.
A qualitative research approach-street-crossing model was used in this research. Successful selected participants walked the street-crossing environment established in the virtual reality known as Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) at Illinois University. Participants walked on the Woodway curve non-automatic treadmill connected to the virtual environment. In every trial, the participant had to walk on the alleyway before a busy street, approached the roadway, and crossed when considered safe. Each test was deemed complete whenever a participant either successfully crossed the busy road when an oncoming car hit the participant or took longer than one and a half hours to complete the trial. During the trial, participants were audibly and visually informed on whether the participant succeeded or failed. Participants followed the same procedure in mobile device scenarios but while engaging in a real conversation with external research assistance using a hands-free device.
The research approach applied in this study was appropriate for answering the research questions as the researchers’ virtual environment was similar to the real-world busy road scenarios.
This research’s overall organization is sequenced appropriately as it thoroughly follows the standard formation of a qualitative research paper, i.e., introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.
Throughout the study, key terms and words are well defined and explained. Keywords used in this research include mobile technology, pedestrian safety, distraction, texting, simulation, and virtual environments.
Figures and tables used in this paper are clear and appropriate as they are well labeled, a detailed description such as notes and images.
Although the paper’s overall organization is concise and appropriate, a detailed review of previous literature research on the topic would improve the organization and presentation of the study.
A Street-Crossing Paradigm was the main primary statistical method applied in the study. The application of the stated approach was appropriate in analyzing research data.
The statistical method used in the research is clearly stated, and its application is well described compared to experimental design. This is because an experimental design could be impossible in such as research topic due to underlying factors such as fear of participants and the risk involved in such a design.
Due to knowledge and technological difference, the statistical approach used in the research can be confusing, especially by learners from less developed countries where such technologies are never heard nor practically applied.
Digital technology offers diversionary tactic potential in daily activities, such as driving or attempting to cross a busy road. There is no study on the repercussions of distraction on pedestrian behavior. Various simulator research findings have all shown injuries with road crossing efficiency through phone conversations. An earlier simulator study suggested that texting had a severe effect on gap acceptance choices (Schwebel et al., 2012). The current research adopted and modified the findings by investigating the distraction capacity of text messaging in an interactive virtual and busy street-crossing simulator and attribute texting to no-distraction or telephone conversations. The study results indicate that (a) texting is as uncertain as telephone conversation when traveling around the street, and (b) since the most critical texting activities are performed before starting a crossing, they will be safer on the road.
The surprising aspect of the research results is that they provide new evidence of a rarely explored topic that tends to be assumed by many showing the real implications brought forward by the use of mobile devices when crossing busy streets.
The research findings are well explained in the discussion section, thus providing the reader with a clear picture of the underlying issue being evaluated and its detrimental impacts in the real-world scenario.
In every busy cross street globally, an accident is reported of a pedestrian concentrating on their mobile device, either texting or playing a video game. This scenario concurs with the conclusions arrived in the current study, thus making the results of the present research reasonable and applicable.
The textual hardware framework mainly constrained the method used in the research. Instead of a fully manual device, texts ware sent and received on a mounted tablet. For safe operation on the treadmill, this renovation was needed. Furthermore, the tablet’s low assembly also compelled participants to look away from the road, which could limit the use of the field of vision to accomplish the crossing activity. Although the way participants were indeed transcribed in real life does not emulate using a tablet, it permits coherence between sampling and a high degree of statistical assumptions. The use of a highly educated sample group was yet another limitation of this research.
Though university students have been used, the results may not be the general multi-tasking pedestrian in the current study. However, other participants may be more likely than younger adults, such as older adults to have dual-task costs. Future work researchers should consider using a handheld texting tablet and voice-activated text messaging to draw comparisons on texting understanding as a distraction.
There are still relatively unpredictable implications of distraction in pedestrian behavior. Limited studies on simulation models have shown the damaging consequences of road crossing efficiency through phone conversations. One earlier simulator survey has revealed that texting negatively affects gap acceptance judgment. To a large extent, these implications are related to design and practices. In busy streets, pedestrian crosswalks should be replaced with flyovers. Nevertheless, people, especially young adults, who are increasingly involved in accidents due to their unethical behavior of using their mobile devices while crossing the road, need to be emphasized and mitigated through developing strict policies.
Banducci, S. E., Ward, N., Gaspar, J. G., Schab, K. R., Crowell, J. A., Kaczmarski, H., & Kramer, A. F. (2016). The effects of cell phone and text message conversations on simulated street crossing. Human factors, 58(1), 150-162.