Study warns of dangers to pedestrians wearing headphones

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 30, 2012

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A survey of news articles and other reports shows that injuries or deaths involving pedestrians who are in accidents while listening to headphones have increased. The study was published online Jan. 16 in Injury Prevention.

For 2004-05, the study found 16 reported deaths or injuries to pedestrians wearing headphones compared with 47 such cases during 2010-11, according to data gathered in the study. Researchers note that one major limitation of the study is that it relied on media reporting, which likely over-publishes tragic events and under-publishes non-fatal cases.

Researchers examined 116 accidents that were reported from 2004 to 2011 in which injured pedestrians were documented to be using headphones. They found that 70% of the accidents resulted in the pedestrian's death. Sixty-eight percent of those killed were male, and 67% were younger than 30 (link).

More than half of the vehicles involved in the accidents were trains, and nearly one in three drivers reported sounding a warning before the crash. The report calls for additional research to determine if and how using headphones compromises pedestrian safety.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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