Are you a wonky walker? Put the phone away, save your life

AAP image - Larry W. Smith

THE rise of social media, texting and myriad phone apps that allow chatty teens to communicate may be making life easier, but they're creating a new hazard on the roads.

The Sunshine Coast will pave the way for research into the act of "wonky walking" when the University of the Sunshine Coast studies how pedestrians are putting their lives in danger by focusing on their mobile phones.

Researcher Bridie Scott-Parker will join with three other experts including two from the US to observe the habits of young pedestrians.

"Teenagers are so caught up in their devices that they are not concentrating on what they are doing or where they are walking and they will walk straight on to the road," Dr Scott-Parker said.

"Drivers, particularly young drivers, aren't expecting pedestrians to walk out on them," she said.

"This is a brand new area of road safety and we are looking to gain an insight into the habits of pedestrians here on the Coast."

Do you think walking while texting is dangerous?

This poll ended on 30 June 2015.

Yes, you're highly distracted - 71%

Lol, no, it's called multitasking, get used to it - 10%

I can't understand why young people always have their phone in their hand anyway - 17%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Dr Scott-Parker and her team of researchers will observe in the Caloundra CBD and at Kings Beach.

They will log an estimated age and actions of the pedestrian before they crossed the road.

"This is the first time this has been done on the Coast and it is an interesting area to look at because we are a tourist spot," Dr Scott-Parker said. "People come for our lovely environment and for a relaxing holiday and maybe they are letting their guard down a bit when it comes to crossing the road," she said.

"In the future we will do this study again to see how many people crossing the road distracted are tourists."

The findings will be presented at a seminar, Dangerous Driving and Wonky Walking: Improving Teen Road Safety, at USC on July 1.

Dr Scott-Parker prides herself on presenting her research in a clear, concise and easy-to-understand manner to enable parents and young drivers to relate to the real safety messages.

Her presentation, Paintwork and Passengers: the young drivers' dream car, will explain how young drivers choose paintwork, colours and stereos over safety when buying their first car.

Lyndel Bates from Griffith University will present her findings in the role parents play in their children's road safety skills.

Arthur Goodwin from the University of North Carolina will present: What every parent needs to know about supervising a new teen driver.

From the same university, Seth LaJeunesse will present his findings on how device-wielding teenagers are changing the face of pedestrian safety.

The forum is free to the public and will be held on Wednesday, July 1, from 9am to noon, at the Innovation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast.

Topics:  editors picks pedestrian phones research university of the sunshine coast

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