Yonkers, New York – Serious injuries among pedestrians listening to headphones have more than tripled in six years in the U.S., according to Consumer Reports.
The magazine cites a study reported in the journal Industry Prevention, which found that between January 2004 and June 2011, there were 116 reports of death or injury among pedestrians wearing headphones. Most of the incidents occurred in urban areas. The average age of the victims was 21, with 68 per cent male and 67 per cent under 30 years of age.
Over half the victims were hit by trains. Approximately one in four reports state that horns or sirens were sounded before the pedestrians were struck.
“The association between distraction caused by cell phone use while driving and driver/passenger fatalities has been documented, but the safety risks associated with headphone use by pedestrians remains unknown,” the study authors reported.
The researchers pointed out that the study does have limitations, including relying on media which may report more fatal than non-fatal incidents, and that there was no information on “near misses” where pedestrians wearing headphones suddenly became aware of the danger and avoided injury. Ownership of devices with headphones has also increased. The authors said that further research is needed to determine if and how headphone use affects pedestrian safety.