The study was conducted in a virtual environment laboratory. In it, simulated cars mimicked traffic traveling in various directions on a two lane road at 30 miles per hour. The 125 participating students were then asked to cross the road without distraction or while texting, talking on their cell, or listening to music. The results showed that while all activities heightened the risk of being hit, the worst was listening to music.
Here are the levels of risk the study determined was associated with each activity:
• 6% – no distractions.
• 12% – talking on a cell phone.
• 25% – texting.
• 33% – listening to music.
The fact that listening to music gave the highest risk was surprising to the study conductors. David Schwebel, study author and director of Youth Safety Laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, “The driving literature suggests that listening to the radio while driving is not particularly dangerous. [But] we found that listening to music while crossing the street is dangerous, and I did not anticipate that.”
He went on to add, “The big thing with music is that your ears are distracted. You are listening to the music and not listening to the traffic. I suspect that we use our ears quite a bit more than we realize to safely cross the street.”