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Study: Older adults have trouble multi-tasking on the street

Posted On Mon, March 21, 2011

Most motorists know that talking on the phone while driving isn't the safest thing to do, but it may be particularly dangerous for older adults while crossing the street.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois, older adults between the ages of 59 and 81 took longer to cross the street than their younger counterparts and were more likely to fail to cross the street in the time allowed.

The researchers tested two groups of 18 - the other being between the ages of 18 to 26 - and had them cross a simulated street while engaged in an activity, either listening to music or talking on a hands-free cellphone. Some of the participants walked across the street undistracted.

They found that the college-aged participants were able to walk across the street without a problem, but older adults were distracted and had difficulty, especially when engaged in a phone conversation.

The findings appear in the Journal Psychology and Aging.

This study may be an indication to drivers, pedestrians and auto insurance companies that multi-tasking of any kind on the roadways is a traffic accident waiting to happen.

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