You may have been taught not to run with scissors, but were you told not to run with headphones? Many people have grown attached to listening to music while they run or walk, but turning the volume up can cause you to “tune out” safety hazards.
The Dangers of Distraction
A study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMM) and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found that incidents involving serious injury to pedestrians wearing headphones more than tripled in recent years. In the 116 cases from 2004 to 2011 that were studied, 70 percent of them were fatal. Moreover, in nearly a third of the cases, a horn had been sounded to warn the victim, which the victim couldn’t hear.
“People have to be aware that they can’t multitask completely. Any time you are doing two things at once, one thing is going to suffer,” explains Richard Lichenstein, professor of pediatrics at UMM and lead author of the study. “Listening to your player and walking is multitasking; in addition, headphones physically prevent the ability to hear warning signs, thus putting you at risk for injury.”
Stay Alert While You’re On the Go
The statistics spell out the problem: Wearing headphones while walking or running outdoors is dangerous. “Headphones are best suited for a gym or someplace less dangerous than a road,” says Lichenstein. “If you must wear headphones outside, use the sidewalk and remember the basic rules of looking both ways.”
While your best safety option is simply not using headphones outdoors, you can help reduce distraction by:
- Using only one ear bud
- Keeping your music low
- Pausing the music before crossing intersections or railroad crossings
- Making eye contact with drivers before entering the street
- Investing in apps such as AWARENESS! which interrupts your music when loud noises are detected
- Combining smart headphone use with additional precautions when exercising outdoors, such as wearing reflective clothing when running at night, jogging in well-lit locations, and avoiding areas with heavy traffic.
Get more tips for pedestrian safety from State Farm®.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.
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