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Maryland study: headphones cause auto-pedestrian crashes

According to a recent Maryland study, pedestrians who wear headphones while they walk or ride their bicycles are at an increased risk of injury and death due to pedestrian accidents. Because young adults are the demographic most likely to be wearing headphones while walking or bicycling, these risks more commonly affect people of that age group.

The car accident study was conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The study was initiated after the death of a teenager who was wearing headphones while he walked across a set of railroad tracks. Because he could not hear the horn of an oncoming train, the teenager was struck by the vehicle and killed.

In the study, researchers reviewed approximately 120 car accidents cases that occurred between 2004 and 2011. In each accident, a pedestrian was struck by a car or other motor vehicle, or a train. Researchers found that the pedestrians suffered fatal injuries in about 70 percent of the accidents. More than two-thirds of the crash victims were males under the age of 30. About one-third of the vehicles involved in the accidents reported that they had sounded their horns prior to the crash.

In sum, the Maryland researchers reportedly found that serious injuries to pedestrians who are listening to headphones at the time of the crash have more than tripled in the last six years. This sends a message to both pedestrians and drivers that they need to be more cautious and aware of their surroundings when out on the road.

Source: USA Today, "Study: More headphone-wearing walkers hit by cars," Chris Woodyard, Jan. 17, 2012

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