Technological and Social Distractions at Unsignalized and Signalized Campus Crosswalks: A Multi-Stage Naturalistic Observation Study
The student population between 18 to 25 years of age remains the largest user group for earphones or personal listening devices (PLDs). PLDs can be quite distracting, especially when its users are performing focused tasks such as street crossings. On large rural university campuses, students often must cross multiple unsignalized crosswalks to get to their destination. To evaluate the dangers of PLD use and pedestrian behavior while navigating crosswalks, we systematically observed multiple crosswalks of a sprawling rural university campus in south-west Virginia, USA. The study was conducted following a three-stage protocol consisting of 9 hours of on-site video recorded observations, a survey of 135 pedestrians, and finally, 2 focus groups with 8 pedestrians in total. This three-stage approach provides a comprehensive understanding of pedestrian behavior and the university-campus culture. Results from this study show the extent of distracted behaviors, safety measures adopted by pedestrians, and identify future research directions involving safety countermeasures for distracted pedestrians.