Crossing Long Island Streets with Headphones? Think Twice

Long Island Distracted Walkers

While New York laws have helped raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving, little attention has been paid to pedestrians using earphones and electronic devices when navigating the sidewalks and streets of Long Island and New York City. A newly published study confirms what many would suspect, that pedestrians distracted by earphones are more likely to be in an accident.
In a study published this week in the journal Injury Prevention, researchers found that the number of pedestrians wearing headphones that were killed or injured by moving vehicles has tripled since 2004. The problem with headphones is that not only is the user distracted by what they are listening to, but they are also unable to hear sounds around them, such as a car speeding towards them or a horn blasting a warning.
Dr. Richard Lichenstein, the study’s lead author and the director of pediatric emergency medicine research at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said he decided to study the topic after reading headline after headline about pedestrians being killed while wearing headphones. “Unfortunately, as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases,” he said.
The study found two-thirds of the victims were male and younger than 30. More than half the victims were struck by a train.. About 55 percent of the vehicles involved in the headphone-related accidents were trains, and 29 percent of the vehicles involved used a horn or other type of audible warning system to let the pedestrians know they were there. In addition, nearly three-quarters of the headphone-related injuries were fatal.
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