University of Maryland Research : Pedestrians Wearing Headphones at Greater Risk for Traffic Accident Injury and Death

Have you noticed how the behavior of Maryland pedestrians has changed in recent years?

Used to be people walked down the street, looked around at the buildings and scenery, and thought about the day’s activities. They walked to and from work, school, and the store, pushed babies in carriages, and trotted their dogs on leashes. The main pedestrian activity in Md. was getting where you needed to go. The biggest distraction was the honking of car horns and of course navigating safely across busy Baltimore City and other Maryland streets.

Now the technological devices that bring a world of information and entertainment to our fingertips are in fact posing a risk to life and limb for not only Maryland distracted drivers — but for distracted pedestrians, too.

Today’s wired walkers aren’t just juggling briefcases, backpacks, shopping bags, and cups of coffee. Drive through downtown Baltimore or any busy Maryland community today, and you can count on one hand the number of pedestrians who aren’t engaged in some sort of technology fueled activity. Pedestrians are talking on cell phones, surfing the Internet, texting their friends, and listening to music on headsets. With their heads down and their hearing muffled, these multitasking distracted pedestrians are at risk for being involved in serious or even fatal pedestrian traffic accidents.

Walking to the Wrong Tune in Baltimore, Maryland : Pedestrian Accidents Waiting to Happen
A new study out of Maryland shows that motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians wearing headphones plugged into devices such as iPods and MP3 players are in fact on the rise. Richard Lichenstein, director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center, led research conducted with his University of Maryland colleagues to look at traffic crash incidents involving pedestrians wearing headsets.

As a Baltimore County pedestrian accident injury attorney knows from work with clients in Maryland — it only takes a split second for a fatal, devastating pedestrian traffic crash to happen. Md. researchers conducting the study on pedestrian traffic accidents and people wearing headsets looked through databases in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as reports appearing in the Google News Archives. Their findings were alarming:

  • Of 116 reports of pedestrian traffic accidents found where the walkers were wearing headphones, 81 of those crashes resulted in death.
  • Nine out of 10 of these cases occurred in urban areas.
  • Two-thirds of pedestrian accident victims were young men under age 30, and one-third were boys under 18.
  • More than half of these accidents involving headset-wearing pedestrians (55 percent) involved trains, with about 3 in 10 cases involving train horns blowing which were reportedly not heard.

Life has become more complicated. As experienced personal injury attorneys in Baltimore County MD, we see how driving and pedestrian distractions can lead to serious and fatal vehicle accidents. The findings of this University of Maryland study should be heard loud and clear by anyone walking OR driving on Baltimore City or other Maryland streets. Please keep your head up and your eyes and ears open.

Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Hybrid Drivers : Pedestrian Accident Injury Liability Claims Up, Insurance Report Says (Jan. 31, 2012)


University of Maryland Medical Center News Release, Jan. 16, 2012
Hazards: Pedestrians Are Advised to Keep Ears Open
The New York Times Jan. 24, 2012

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