The number of headphone-wearing pedestrians killed or injured by moving vehicles has tripled in the US since 2004 and 2005. According to a study published in the online journal Injury Prevention, as many as 16 people were injured or killed in that two-year period; 47 people were injured or killed in 2010-2011.
Researchers analyzed incidents reported in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google News Archives and the Westlaw Campus Research Database.
They identified the incidents by combing the reports and articles using words such as “headphones,” “killed,” “injured,” “iPod” and several other variations. Overall, the team identified 116 cases from 2004 through 2011 in which pedestrians were injured or killed by moving vehicles.
Of the victims, 68% were male, and 67% were younger than 30. Further, 59% of the accidents occurred in large metropolitan areas with populations larger than 1 million. And 55% of the victims were struck by a train. The ages of pedestrians killed mimic the demographic of those that use MP3 players and iPods.
The researchers note there were a number of limitations to their study. The major limitation was that it relied heavily on media reports. Media outlets likely over-publish fatal events but tend not to run stories on non-fatal accidents, the authors note.
Also, the authors weren’t able to distinguish how many of the accidents involved suicidal intentions, substance abuse or mental illness; all of which might have played a role in some of the incidents.