Impacts of visual and cognitive distractions and time pressure on pedestrian crossing behaviour: A simulator study

Kai Tian, Gustav Markkula, Chongfeng Wei, Ehsan Sadraei, Toshiya Hirose, Natasha Merat, Richard Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Distractions have been recognised as one important factor associated with pedestrian injuries, as the increasing use of cell phones and personal devices. However, the situation is less clear regarding the differences in the effects of visual-manual and auditory-cognitive distractions. Here, we investigated distracted pedestrians in a one-lane road with continuous traffic using an immersive CAVE-based simulator. Sixty participants were recruited to complete a crossing task and perform one of two distractions, a visual-manual task and an auditory-cognitive task. Moreover, normal and time pressure crossing conditions were included as a baseline and comparison. For the first time, this study directly compared the impacts of visual-manual, auditory-cognitive distractions, and time pressure on pedestrian crossing behaviour and safety in a controlled environment. The results indicated that although pedestrian safety was compromised under both types of distraction, the effects of the applied distractions were different. When engaged in the visual-manual distraction, participants crossed the road slowly, but there was no significant difference in gap acceptance or initiation time compared to baseline. In contrast, participants walked slowly, crossed earlier, and accepted smaller gaps when performing the auditory-cognitive distraction. This has interesting parallels to existing findings on how these two types of distractions affect driver performance. Moreover, the effects of the visual-manual distraction were found to be dynamic, as these effects were affected by the gap size. Finally, compared to baseline, time pressure resulted in participants accepting smaller time gaps with shorter initiation times and crossing durations, leading to an increase in unsafe decisions and a decrease in near-collisions. These results provide new evidence that two types of distraction and time pressure impair pedestrian safety, but in different ways. Our findings may provide insights for further studies involving pedestrians with different distraction components.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106770
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept


  • Auditory-cognitive distraction
  • Crossing safety
  • Pedestrian
  • Road crossing
  • Time pressure
  • Visual-manual distraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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