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Effectiveness of interventions for mobile phone distracted pedestrians: A systematic review.

INTRODUCTION: Mobile phones are used universally due to their versatility and easy-to-use features; this includes when users are walking and when crossing streets. At intersections, using a mobile phone is a secondary task that can distract from the primary task of scanning the road environment and ensuring it is safe to traverse. Such a distraction has been shown to increase risky pedestrian behavior compared to non-distracted behavior. Developing an intervention to make distracted pedestrians aware of imminent danger is a promising approach to refocus pedestrians on their primary task and avoid incidents. Interventions have already been developed in different parts of the world, such as in-ground flashing lights, painted crosswalks, and mobile phone app-based warning systems.

METHOD: A systematic review of 42 articles was performed to determine the effectiveness of such interventions. This review found that three types of interventions are currently developed, with differing evaluations. Interventions based on infrastructure tend to be evaluated based on behavioral change. Mobile phone-based apps tend to be evaluated on their ability to detect obstacles. Legislative changes and education campaigns are not currently evaluated. Further, technological development often occurs independently of pedestrians' needs, reducing the likely safety benefits of such interventions. The interventions related to infrastructure mainly focus on warning pedestrians without considering pedestrian mobile phone use, potentially leading to numerous irrelevant warnings and reduced user acceptance. The lack of a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluating these interventions is also an issue requiring consideration.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This review demonstrates that despite significant recent progress surrounding pedestrian distraction, more work is required to identify the most effective interventions to implement. Future studies with a well-designed experimental framework are necessary to compare the different approaches, and warning messages, and ensure the best guidance for road safety agencies.

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