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Headphone use increases chance of a pedestrian accident

The numbers of pedestrian accidents around the country have increased despite falling numbers of car accident deaths and fatalities. Although technology has made cars safer for drivers and passengers, technology also appears to be creating an unforeseen danger on Ohio roads in the form of ear buds.

A recent study into the causes of pedestrian accidents was launched after a teen was killed while crossing railroad tracks. The teen was wearing headphones at the time of the fatal accident and did not hear the horn of the oncoming train. One pediatric emergency physician saw this tragic accident as an opportunity to warn parents and young adults about the dangers of being distracted around cars and trains.

"Everybody is aware of the risk of cellphones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more teens distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears," the doctor said.

The study examined 116 pedestrian accidents between 2004 and 2011 in which pedestrians were run over by trains or cars. These accidents resulted in death about 70 percent of the time, showing just how vulnerable pedestrians are in these types of accidents. Approximately two-thirds of the victims were young men under the age of 30.

"The increased incidence of accidents over the years closely corresponds to documented rising popularity of auditory technologies with headphones," researchers said.

Pedestrians can decrease the likelihood of a pedestrian accident by always keeping a lookout for trains at crossings, lowering the volume on their listening devices, and jogging in parks or other areas that are closed to vehicle traffic.

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

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