Washington, Jan 17 (ANI): The number of serious accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones while using electronic devices such as iPods have more than tripled in six years, a new study has revealed.
In many cases, the cars or trains are sounding horns that the pedestrians cannot hear, leading to fatalities in nearly three-quarters of cases, according to research.
"Everybody is aware of the risk of cell phones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more tees distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears," said lead author Richard Lichenstein, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases," Lichenstein stated.
Dr. Lichenstein and his colleagues studied retrospective case reports from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google News Archives, and Westlaw Campus Research databases for reports published between 2004 and 2011 of pedestrian injuries or fatalities from crashes involving trains or motor vehicles.
Cases involving headphone use were extracted and summarized.
They reviewed 116 accident cases from 2004 to 2011 in which injured pedestrians were documented to be using headphones.
Seventy percent of the 116 accidents resulted in death to the pedestrian. ore than two-thirds of victims were male (68 percent) and under the age of 30 (67 percent). More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains (55 percent), and nearly a third (29 percent) of the vehicles reported sounding some type of warning horn prior to the crash.
The increased incidence of accidents over the years closely corresponds to documented rising popularity of auditory technologies with headphones.
Dr. Lichenstein and his colleagues noted two likely phenomena associated with these injuries and deaths: distraction and sensory deprivation.
The distraction caused by the use of electronic devices has been coined "inattentional blindness," in which multiple stimuli divide the brain's mental resource allocation.
In cases of headphone-wearing pedestrian collisions with vehicles, the distraction is intensified by sensory deprivation, in which the pedestrian's ability to hear a train or car warning signal is masked by the sounds produced by the portable electronic device and headphones.
The research has been published online in the journal Injury Prevention. (ANI)
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