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Should You Listen to Music While Walking?

walking with headphones

Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Say No

On February 9, 2015, Torry Randolph, a lively 16-year-old school girl from Wellington, Colorado was struck and killed by a train when she was crossing the track. Investigators said that she was listening to music at the time and the headphone in her ears blocked out the sound of the train. She is but only one of the victims of distracted walking who get injured or killed every year in the United States, as all experienced pedestrian accident lawyers know.

While listening to music is definitely good for your mental health (studies have shown that your favorite music can put you in a good mood instantly), it is definitely not a good idea when you are walking. Although you may argue that you are using your eyes, listening to music wearing a headphone while walking can still distract you from your surroundings. Distracted walking is one of the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities in the United States.

The reason why listening to music while walking is dangerous

The number of pedestrians seriously injured or killed by cars and trains while wearing headphones has increased drastically in recent years, according to research conducted jointly by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Teenagers and young adults are especially at risk because they make the largest group that wear headphones while walking.

The research study identified ‘distraction’ and ‘sensory deprivation’ as the two culprits that impair a pedestrian’s natural ability to navigate when he listening to music with headphones on.

  • Distraction is the result of your brain trying to divide mental resource allocation among multiple stimuli that are demanding your attention at the same time. In simpler terms, it hinders your ability to concentrate on what’s happening around you – a condition the researchers have described as “inattentional blindness”.
  • Sensory deprivation occurs when your ability to see, hear and feel is impaired. Obviously, the music in your ears mutes the sounds coming from outside, such as that of cars and trains. With your headphone stuck snuggly in your ears, you will not hear the noise of oncoming vehicles, which can be fatal as in the case of Torry Randolph.
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The statistics speak for themselves

Of the 116 accident cases reviewed by the researchers in which injured pedestrians were known to be wearing headphones, 81.2 (or 70%) were found to have resulted in the pedestrian’s death. Of those who were killed, 68% were male and 67% were under the age of 30. In 55% of these cases, the vehicle involved was a train and 29% of the vehicle’s drivers said that they did sound the horn or other kind of warning sound prior to the collision.

Risks associated with listening to music while walking

The number one risk associated with listening to music while walking is getting mowed down by an oncoming car or train, resulting in injuries or death. Injuries include strains, sprains, bruises, cuts, broken bones, fractures, brain injuries, concussions and spinal cord injuries. Lucky is the person who escapes with minor cuts and bruises. Most victims end up dead. Some end up paralyzed for life. That’s a hefty price to pay for a small pleasure.

It’s not only cars and trains that can kill you

While cars and trains are responsible for a majority of injuries and fatalities, they are not the only ones that can kill you. You can easily get killed by flying or falling objects in a construction site since you can’t hear them whooshing by. You can get injured or killed anywhere by projectiles and other moving objects if you can’t hear them coming.

So while listening to music is good for your health and mind, it is not safe to walk with the headphones glued to your ears. If you or any of your loved one is injured in an accident while walking, contact pedestrian accident lawyers to find out whether you have a valid injury claim.

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