Multi-tasking While Crossing Street May Be Hazardous to Your HealthIf you ever thought you might be distracted while walking and talking on your phone, you’d be right.

A new study finds that older adults who talk on their cellphones while attempting to use a crosswalk are putting themselves at increased risk for an accident.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that older adults (ages 59 to 81) often took significantly longer than college students to cross a simulated street while talking on a mobile or cellphone.

Surprisingly, the older adults’ heightened caution while initiating their crossing did nothing to improve their safety.

Older adults on mobile phones were also more likely to fail to cross in the time allotted for the task.

In the study, 18 young adult college students and 18 older adults crossed simulated streets of varying difficulty while either undistracted, listening to music, or speaking on a handheld mobile phone.

“It should be noted that we have previously found that younger adults show similar performance decrements, but under much more challenging crossing conditions,” said lead author Mark Neider, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher who conducted the study with Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Dr. Art Kramer.

The older adults were significantly impaired on the most challenging street-crossing tasks while also engaged in a second activity, according to the new research. The most pronounced impairment occurred during mobile phone conversations.

The younger adults showed no impairment on dual-task performance, the researchers noted.

“Combined with our previous work, the current findings suggest that while all pedestrians should exercise caution when attempting to cross a street while conversing on a mobile phone, older adults should be particularly careful.”

The new study is published in the journal, Psychology and Aging.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign