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Headphone-wearing pedestrians often don't survive accidents

While the sight of a teenager or young adult walking around listening to music on their headphones is pretty much commonplace these days, the practice is not completely innocuous. Anyone who has gotten caught up in listening to music while walking around has probably come close to inadvertently walking into disaster without realizing it.

A new study conducted at the University of Maryland shows that when the disasters do happen, the results are tragic. Out of 116 accident cases that were profiled in the study in which headphone-wearing pedestrians were hit by cars or trains, 70 percent resulted in fatalities.

The study also found that most of the victims were males under the age of 30. About one-third of the vehicles involved in the collisions reported that they sounded their horns prior to the crash. However, the victims of the accidents often don't hear the warnings because the sounds that today's portable music devices produce are so good--and loud.

One of the authors of the study compares the problem of young adults being distracted by headphones with the issue of drivers who attempt to text on their cell phones while driving. The results for each kind of distraction can be equally deadly. The study's chief author, a pediatrics professor at the University of Maryland's medical school, was inspired to commence the study after a teenager was killed while walking across railroad tracks. The teenager did not move out of the way of an oncoming train despite its auditory warning.

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

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