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Do headphones put pedestrians in danger?

Pedestrians often know the risks of walking near traffic. Even so, statistics indicate that they'll not only take on these risks. They may also increase the danger by allowing themselves to be distracted.

For example, one study looked at accidents in which pedestrians were using headphones when they were hit. In 2004, there were 16 such accidents. In 2010, there were 47.

Researchers warned that headphone use is a clear distraction that can make an accident more likely. A pedestrian stepping into a crosswalk without headphones may be able to hear a car speeding up and making a left-hand turn, but a pedestrian without headphones may be oblivious. This can lead to accidents that could otherwise have been avoided.

In fact, roughly 33 percent of drivers who were involved in these accidents said they hit the horn before the accident. Pedestrians did not always hear the warning.

These accidents can be fatal. Almost 70 percent of them ended with the death of the pedestrian. That was out of 116 total crashes that were studied. While 10 percent of these happened in rural or suburban areas, most -- the other 90 percent -- took place in cities.

Of course, pedestrians have a right to safety, whether they're wearing headphones or not. While avoiding distractions is wise and can certainly help prevent serious injury, they're not obligated to leave the MP3 player or the phone at home so that they can dodge cars in crosswalks. Those who are hit can face high medical bills and need to know all of their legal options to gain compensation.

Source: Live Science, "Injuries, Deaths Rise for Pedestrians Wearing Headphones," Linda Thrasybule, accessed Oct. 16, 2017

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