Study: Headphone Use Is Dangerous For Pedestrians

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Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We all know texting and driving is dangerous but a new study shows walking with headphones on can also be deadly.

Meghan McCorkell has more on this alarming new report.

Since 2004, 116 people have been injured while walking with their headphones on. Now doctors are sounding the alarm.

Anna Marie Stickel was just 14 years old when she was hit by a train and killed.

“We were laughing and joking and I heard it a split second before she did and I turned and ran,” said Sarah Harden, Stickel’s best friend.

The Middle River teen never heard the train coming because she was wearing her headphones. It was Stickel’s death in 2010 that prompted Dr. Richard Lichenstein to study the dangers of pedestrians wearing headphones.

“I think this may be the next thing that people need to be aware of,” he said.

According to the new report, in 2004, 16 people in the U.S. were injured while walking and wearing headphones. By last year, that number had tripled to 47. Of the 116 people hit in the last seven years, 81 died.

“If you’re plugging up your ears from alarms, sirens and horns, you’re certainly going to put yourself at risk for injury or possibly death,” Lichenstein said.

More than half the accidents involved pedestrians hit by trains. According to the study, it’s not just the noise that’s the problem—it’s the distraction of using the device.

Despite the dangers, pedestrians WJZ spoke to say they do it.

“I have tunnel vision. When I walk around, I like to block things out when I’m doing certain things,” said Nicholas Trotter.

Though some try to be safer.

“I only wear, like, one ear sometimes so I can hear what’s going on as well,” said Tevin Golding.

Pumping down the volume is a simple step that could save your life.

A majority of the victims injured from wearing headphones were males under the age of 30.

In more than a quarter of the injury cases, the train or car sounded an alarm or horn to try and alert the pedestrian before they were hit.

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