A rise in the number of pedestrians who have been hit by cars, trucks, buses, trains and other vehicles could be explained by the increased use of headphone devices. The incidents of headphone wearing pedestrians being struck by vehicles prompted the University of Maryland in Baltimore to take a closer look. The research looked at 116 cases of pedestrians being struck by cars while wearing headphones from 2004 to 2011. That type of accident grew more common over those years.
Headphones make walking more dangerous in several ways. An iPod or MP3 player makes it less likely that you will hear a car honk or the traffic sounds that accompany a collision. The cues that might allow a pedestrian to avoid an accident are blocked by the headphones. In addition, people wearing headphones are distracted. They may fail to obey signals at crosswalks or enter intersections without checking for traffic.
As might be expected, a disproportionate number of the accidents involved younger pedestrians and collisions with trains. More than half of all victims were between 15 and 24 years old and more than half of the accidents involved a train or subway. As more people rely on public transportation for their commute, the number of pedestrian/train accidents will likely rise.
The authors of the study acknowledged that a lack of reliable information makes further research a necessity. These accidents are often fatal, making it difficult to determine what the victim was doing immediately before the collision. At this point, pedestrians simply need to be more aware of the dangers of using headphones. Safe walking habits are as important as safe driving habits when it comes to preventing serious injuries.