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Do headphones increase the risk of an accident?

Considering how much new automotive technology is available, car accidents are still stunningly common. It seems that lane departure warnings, backup cameras and all the rest can't keep crashes from happening. Collisions claim thousands of lives every year. However, could one type of technology actually be causing more accidents?

When looking at car/bike accidents and car/pedestrian accidents, studies seem to suggest that portable devices and headphones can absolutely lead to crashes. Bikers and pedestrians who are listening to music — or books, podcasts and other types of media — on their MP3 players are being hit by cars at a rising rate.

According to one data set, for example, this happened 14 times in 2004 - 2005. This was when headphones were really starting to get popular with the rise of MP3 players like the iPod. In 2011, when those were well-established and frequently used, it had jumped all the way to 47 such accidents.

Another study looked at what drivers did before the crash, and it found that many cases involved the use of horns and/or sirens. Specifically, the study examined 116 cases, and these devices were used to warn people in 34 instances. The warnings did no good, as the pedestrians could not hear them, and accidents happened anyway.

This is not to say that the pedestrians were in the wrong in these cases. They could have been acting properly, while other drivers tried to warn them about dangers caused by a third party. But it does show that there is a greater risk of being hit, injured or killed with headphones on, so the families of those who are hurt in Indiana must know their legal rights.

Source: Treehugger, "Pedestrians Killed While Wearing Headphones are Car Magnets Who Deserve What They Get, New Study Confirms," Lloyd Alter, accessed May 10, 2016

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