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Cost–benefit analysis of a distracted pedestrian intervention
  1. Md Jillur Rahim1,
  2. David C Schwebel2,
  3. Ragib Hasan3,
  4. Russell Griffin4,
  5. Bisakha Sen1
  1. 1Department of Health Policy & Organization, The University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  3. 3Department of Computer Science, The University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  4. 4Department of Epidemiology, The University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bisakha Sen, Department of Health Policy & Organization, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; bsen{at}uab.edu

Abstract

Objective Cellphone ubiquity has increased distracted pedestrian behaviour and contributed to growing pedestrian injury rates. A major barrier to large-scale implementation of prevention programmes is unavailable information on potential monetary benefits. We evaluated net economic societal benefits of StreetBit, a programme that reduces distracted pedestrian behaviour by sending warnings from intersection-installed Bluetooth beacons to distracted pedestrians’ smartphones.

Methods Three data sources were used as follows: (1) fatal, severe, non-severe pedestrian injury rates from Alabama’s electronic crash reporting system; (2) expected costs per fatal, severe, non-severe pedestrian injury—including medical cost, value of statistical life, work-loss cost, quality-of-life cost—from CDC and (3) prevalence of distracted walking from extant literature. We computed and compared estimated monetary costs of distracted walking in Alabama and monetary benefits from implementing StreetBit to reduce pedestrian injuries at intersections.

Results Over 2019–2021, Alabama recorded an annual average of 31 fatal, 83 severe and 115 non-severe pedestrian injuries in intersections. Expected costs/injury were US$11 million, US$339 535 and US$93 877, respectively. The estimated distracted walking prevalence is 25%–40%, and StreetBit demonstrates 19.1% (95% CI 1.6% to 36.0%) reduction. These figures demonstrate potential annual cost savings from using interventions like StreetBit statewide ranging from US$18.1 to US$29 million. Potential costs range from US$3 208 600 (beacons at every-fourth urban intersection) to US$6 359 200 (every other intersection).

Conclusions Even under the most parsimonious scenario (25% distracted pedestrians; densest beacon placement), StreetBit yields US$11.8 million estimated net annual benefit to society. Existing data sources can be leveraged to predict net monetary benefits of distracted pedestrian interventions like StreetBit and facilitate large-scale intervention adoption.

  • Pedestrian
  • Distraction
  • Behavior Change
  • Economic Analysis
  • Costs

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. We have used publicly available data for this study. Data generated for this study are available on request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. We have used publicly available data for this study. Data generated for this study are available on request.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors MJR conceptualised the study, conducted the analysis, drafted the manuscript, and reviewed the final manuscript. DCS and BS conceptualised the study, drafted the manuscript, and reviewed the final manuscript. RH and RG conceptualised the study and reviewed the final manuscript. All authors provided feedback and approved the final manuscript. MJR and BS accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study and had access to the data.

  • Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Award Number 1952090 and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21HD095270.

  • Disclaimer The content and any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.