Accidents involving headphone-wearing pedestrians on the rise

new app aims to make distracted walking accidents a thing of the past wearing headphonesYou’ve seen people doing it. You might even do it yourself—listening to music through headphones while walking along the street. It may seem innocent enough, but according to new research published in the Injury Prevention journal, engaging in such behavior could land you up in hospital, or worse.

The University of Maryland researchers noted that while distraction caused by cell phone use in cars has been looked at in depth, the risk of injury through the wearing of headphones or earphones by pedestrians has received far less attention.

The retrospective study revealed an increase in incidents involving those wearing headphones, uncovering 116 reports of death or injury of pedestrians between 2004 and 2011. Most victims were male (68 percent), with 67 percent under 30 years of age. Of all the accidents in the study, 55 percent involved trains and 89 percent occurred in urban areas. In almost a third of the incidents, it was claimed a warning was sounded prior to the accident.

“As we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases,” researcher Dr. Richard Lichtenstein said.

While it can’t be said for sure if the wearing of headphones was the true cause of all of the accidents, the study nevertheless highlights the dangers of effectively closing off one of your senses while out and about.

Over the years, manufacturers of headsets have been doing their best to come up with headphones that cancel out external noise. While these may be great for sitting on a noisy subway train, they might not be so good when a fire truck on its way to an emergency speeds around the corner just as you’re crossing on a ‘walk’ signal.

As more coverage is given to the potential dangers of using headphones while moving around on foot, some developers have come up with apps that claim to allow the user to hear what’s going on around them, such as essency’s Awareness! app.

Ever had a close shave while walking along listening to music on your media player?

[Image: Karyna Che / Shutterstock]

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