Wherever you look, more people wear headphones, earbuds, and other devices for long walks, jogs, or entertaining themselves. The once bulky listening devices have shrunk in size, adding to the growing popularity. As with any trend, a downside usually comes to the forefront. In addition to the possibility of hearing damage, those walking, jogging, or riding in vehicles could find themselves in serious accidents.
Counter-intuitive as it may seem, some motor vehicle operators use headphones while operating their cars, a dangerous practice and illegal in Pennsylvania. The trend has resulted in an increased number of motor vehicle accidents and subsequent injuries.
Studies reveal that the combination of the headphone volume and external sound creates confusion that could result in catastrophe as drivers try to figure out any sound’s source. Anything covering or inserted into the ears could see a variety of outcomes, such as an approaching emergency vehicle sharing the road with a driver wearing headphones, which could delay much-needed help.
Noise-cancelling devices can make a bad situation that much worse. Those precious few seconds could lead to a serious collision due to the inability to hear anything but what is emitting from headphones.
Studies also reveal that a reduction in vehicle and roadway sounds can result in car and truck drivers underestimating their vehicle speed, a theory based on laboratory and road studies. One, in particular, showed that the reaction to road hazards while wearing headphones was one-fifth of a second longer, with steering errors at eight percent.
Results also indicated that reaction to road hazards was one-fifth of a second longer while wearing headphones, with drivers committing eight percent more steering errors. The smallest amount of time can create the largest of catastrophes.