A new study claims accidents involving the pedestrian's use of headphones has tripled over the course of six years. The accidents studied ended in serious injuries or death.
The number of headphone-wearing pedestrian victims was 16 in 2005. Last year, the figure jumped to 47. In all, 116 such cases were found within the time period.
34 of the cases occurred after a horn or siren had blared. Half of the accidents involved being run over by a train. The researchers are concerned about pedestrians paying attention to auditory cues. However, horns, sirens, and trains should be loud enough to hear well before impact, even with headphones. But researchers seem more concerned about "inattentional blindness," which describes our disregard for external auditory stimuli when the brain is devoted to something more immediate, like music.
More than a third of the total victims were younger than 18 and two thirds were males younger than 30.
The study was published in the online journal Injury Prevention. The goal of the researchers was to do for headphone-related injuries what research has already done for cellphone-related injuries. Several of the potential elements that could not be controlled in the study include sensationalizing media bias, suicidal intentions, substance abuse, mental illness and driver error.
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