Street-crossing workload in young and older pedestrians.


IFSTTAR-LEPSIS, 25 allée des Marronniers, 78000 Versailles, France. Electronic address: [Email]


Although several studies have sought to identify both gap-acceptance difficulties with aging and gait differences, few have examined the extent to which crossing the street is physically and cognitively demanding for older pedestrians, in such a way that street crossing can be seen as a dual task. To gain insight into this issue, this study reports an experiment with 15 young (ages 19-26), 19 younger-old (ages 60-72), and 21 older-old (ages 73-82) adults. The participants carried out three tasks: (i) a simple walking task, (ii) a dual task involving walking while scanning (walking while pressing a button as soon as a visual or sound stimulus appeared), and (iii) a street-crossing task with vehicles approaching from two directions. The results indicated more street-crossing collisions in older-old than in younger-old and young participants. Longer reaction times were observed in the dual walking-scanning task for both old groups, especially for visual stimuli. Walking-speed comparisons yielded nonsignificant differences between the dual task and the street-crossing task in young participants, suggesting a correspondence in terms of demands and task priority. In contrast, old participants walked significantly faster in the street-crossing task than in the dual task, suggesting that they placed priority on walking rapidly than on scanning traffic. Finally, whereas the participants estimated the perceived workload to be greater when they were crossing the street than while simply walking or responding to the dual task, young participants gave the highest rating to the mental and physical demands, perhaps due to a lack of awareness of task demands among old participants.


Aging,Attention,Street crossing,Walking,Workload,