Accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones has increased: study

The number of pedestrians wearing headphones who were seriously injured or killed near roadways and railways has tripled in six years, a new US study shows. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, between 2004 to 2005, the number of headphone-wearing pedestrians who were seriously injured was 16. By 2011, the number had increased to 47. According to the study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, in 34 of the 116 cases mentioned, horns or sirens were sounded before the victims were struck.

The majority of incidents involved young men under the age of 30, most of whom where in urban counties. More than half of the injuries occured with trains, not motor vehicles, the LA Times reported.  

The lead researcher on the study, Richard Lichenstein at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, explained that "Sensory deprivation that results from using headphones with electronic devices may be a unique problem in pedestrian incidents, where auditory cues can be more important than visual ones." 

However, while the study doesn't show causation or correlation of headphone use and pedestrian risk, the authors point to two factors that could cause the assocation between headphone use and injury. The first is sensory deprivation, and the second is "inattentional blindness," which refers to how the use of electronic gadgets can decrease our attention to the things around us. 

The authors used the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission databases, along with Google News Archives and the Westlaw Campus Research records, as sources for the survey. 

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