A US-based study, which appeared in the BMJ journal Injury Prevention, found a total of 116 reports of death or injury to pedestrians wearing headphones between 2004 and 2011, jumping from 16 in 2004/5 to 47 in 20110/11.
Most victims were men (68%) and under the age of 30 (67%), with around one in 10 of all cases (9%) under the age of 18.
Some 89% of the cases occurred in urban areas and more than half (55%) of the victims were struck by trains.
Eighty-one of the 116 collisions (70%) resulted in the person dying – even though a warning such as a siren was sounded in around a third of the cases.
The study concluded: “The use of headphones with handheld devices may pose a safety risk to pedestrians, especially in environments with moving vehicles. Further research is needed to determine if and how headphone use compromises pedestrian safety.”
Andrew Howard, who is the head of road safety at the AA, added that some pedestrians can be “so wrapped up in their own little bubble they forget the world going on around them”.
That can include headphone wearers, Howard said, but also people talking on phones and even people walking with hoods up.
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