February 2, 2009 in Features

Kids talking on cell phones more likely to get hit by car

By Harry Jackson Jr. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

We all know that people with cell phones stuck in their heads while driving are hazardous to everyone’s health.

Now, psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have determined that children who talk on cell phones while crossing streets increase their change for injuries or death in pedestrian accidents.

“Cell phones clearly offer convenience and safeguards to families, but they also may pose risk,” they wrote, “particularly when children attempt to multitask while conversing on the cell phone and have reduced cognitive capacity to devote to potentially dangerous activities such as crossing streets.”

Translation: They’re not paying attention so they step into moving traffic.

In the study, which will appear in the journal Pediatrics, researchers learned that children on cell phones took 20 percent longer to cross the street, were less likely to look both ways and were less likely to see a car that’s about to mow them down.

Previous research reported by the Health on the Net Foundation found kids using cell phones are more distracted, even experienced cell phone users, and therefore more likely to get hit by a car.

Meanwhile, says the Foundation, the number of children with cell phones will double between 2006 and 2012. Already, 54 percent of children 8 to 12 years old carry cell phones.

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