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Headphone hazard to pedestrians

Tuesday January 17th, 2012

The iPod revolution is creating a new hazard for young adults, researchers warned today.

In the USA, the number of users of headphones who suffer serious injuries while walking on the street has trebled in just six years, researchers reported.

The statistics show how listening to music or speaking on the phone while walking around town has become routine among teenagers and young adults.

Accident specialists, reporting the problem, say young adults are suffering from "inattentional blindness" because they become unaware of their surroundings.

Although the increase is stark, the numbers represent just 47 accidents in the USA last year. This compared with 16 six years earlier.

The researchers say accidents often happened even though drivers - or cyclists - frequently reported sounding horns or sirens. This happened in 29 per cent of cases.

Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, Dr Richard Lichenstein, of the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, Baltimore, USA, says: "The risks posed by the use of these devices by drivers are well documented.

"But little is known about the association between headphone use and pedestrian injury."

Injury Prevention January 17 2012 doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2011-040161

Tags: A&E | General Health | Infancy to Adolescence | North America

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