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Headphones May be Deadly for Massachusetts Pedestrians and Drivers

A new study indicates that headphones are posing a serious danger to pedestrians and drivers. In the past six years, serious injuries caused by pedestrian accidents have more than tripled due to blaring music in pedestrians' headphones, according to the new study.

The population impacted at the highest level is young men - they are listening to their music so loud that they cannot hear trains or cars honking, leading to deadly results. In three quarters of the cases, pedestrians have died from their injuries.

The study looked at 116 accidents involving trains or cars striking pedestrians that occurred from 2004 to 2011. Many of the vehicles honked their horns before the accident, but the pedestrians could not hear it. In 70 percent of the crashes, the pedestrian's injuries were fatal.

This problem is significantly affecting young people. Two thirds of the pedestrians injured were men under 30-years-old. The other one third consisted of teens under 18 years of age. Parents may have to step in and alert their teens of the dangers of using headphones and ear buds while walking in high traffic areas.

This problem is not well documented and is pretty new. From 2004 to 2005 there were only 16 cases of pedestrians being injured when they were wearing headphones or ear buds. That number more than doubled in 2010 to 2011 when there were 47 cases of pedestrian injury from headphone or ear bud use.

The authors of the study wrote, "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." This proves that the old adage, "stop, look and listen" may be more important than ever.

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