iPods Harming Pedestrians

Listening to music while crossing the street is very dangerous

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Technology is continiously advancing and everything is getting smaller and easier to carry – especially mp3 players or iPods. But, are these little devices too distracting?

People have been warned not to talk or text on the phone while driving, but does that also apply to pedestrians? Researchers are finding that listening to music might be even more dangerous than texting and talking on the phone while walking.

"Turn off your iPods while you cross the street."

David Schwebel, Ph.D., director of the Youth Safety Laboratory at the University of Alabama Birmingham, found the worst outcomes were seen with individuals who were listening to music while crossing the street - 30 percent of participants were hit while crossing the street listening to music.

The researchers also found people who were on the phone while crossing the street were twice as likely to fail crossing the street safely compared to those were not distracted. Texters did not fair any better - 25 percent of those failed to cross the street safely.

People are listening to music and not listening to the traffic, Schwebel says. Schwebel believes that pedestrians use their ears more than they think to cross the street.

The study included 125 students who were asked to virtually cross a two-lane road while cars drove at 30 miles per hour. The participants were tested without distractions, texting, talking on a cell phone and listening to music with ear buds.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths rose for the first time in four years this past year. Schwebel proposes that pedestrians put devices away, bridges be made, or laws should prevent people from walking and listening to music.

The most realistic change that can make a difference is simply turn the devices off, Schwebel concludes. Keep your ears open so you can cross the road safely.

The research is published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 23, 2011
Last Updated:
August 24, 2011