Pedestrian crossing behavior in college students: exploration using the theory of planned behavior
Background. In the United States, pedestrian fatalities make up a substantial proportion of total traffic fatalities. High use of mobile data and exposure to high-traffic environments place college students at increased risk. The present study aimed to utilize the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to examine college students’ behavioral intention to cross the street on campus while using a mobile device. A secondary aim was to estimate the incidence of distracted mobile device use among street-crossing pedestrians at a large public southeastern university. Methods. Questionnaire data were collected from undergraduate college students attending a Southeastern university. Questionnaire development involved a literature review, face and content validity by expert panel, readability and comprehensibility by pilot test, stability reliability by test-retest, and internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha. Construct validity of the TPB for predicting behavioral intention to cross the street on campus while using a mobile device was assessed using linear regression analyses. The second aim involved performing observations to estimate the incidence of distracted mobile device use among street-crossing pedestrians. Results. The TPB constructs of attitude toward the behavior (B = .395, p < .001), subjective norm (B = .328, p < .001), and perceived behavioral control (B = .158, p < .001) were significant predictors of behavioral intention and explained 48.4% of the variance. Observations yielded 4,878 crossing instances (33.9% male and 66.1% female). Overall, 1,201 (24.6%) cases involved device use with 16.8% of male crossings and 28.6% of female crossings involving distraction. A significant difference in device use while crossing was found between some observation locations, X^2(3) = 8.866, p = .031. Discussion. A questionnaire was developed to measure TPB constructs predictive of college students’ behavioral intention to cross the street on campus while using a mobile device. Such a questionnaire can be used in the design and evaluation of TPB-based interventions to decrease distracted mobile device use while crossing the street among college students. Observation data provide an estimate of distracted mobile device use while crossing the street. Future research should focus on improving understanding of the problem and evaluation of interventions to influence behavioral intention.