Pedestrian accidents and headphones
In the first six months of 2010, 50 pedestrians were killed in Maryland, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians are often serious—or fatal. Most pedestrian accidents occur when people and vehicles try to use the same road space at the same time. Our firm routinely investigates traffic accidents to determine causes of pedestrian and vehicle accidents.
A recent study through the University of Maryland investigated the risk of pedestrians using headphones with handheld devices. The media-based research gained traction through Internet headlines, noting findings that earbuds and headphones contribute to cognitive and sensory inattention—potentially increasing pedestrian fatalities. Of the 116 deaths studied between 2004 and 2011, most of the victims were male, under 30, and more than half were killed by trains.
While deadly earbuds make for good reading, the real story is a 19 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in 2010 and the 4.2 percent increase in fatalities from the year prior, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The GHSA report linked pedestrian fatalities to a number of causes, including:
- Lifestyle trends like walking communities
- Motorist and pedestrian distraction and use of personal electronic devices
- Lack of pedestrian walkways
- Roadways ill-designed for pedestrian safety
- Socio-economic factors
Paying attention to research—and the road—can help avoid an accident investigation. But as noted in the GHSA report, [t]he price of pedestrian safety is eternal vigilance.