We’ve all heard the warnings about distracted driving, but did you ever think you’d hear warnings about distracted walking? Distracted walking has become pretty common in recent years, and it’s having a significant effect on pedestrian accident cases. So what is it? Well, it’s using headphones or earbuds while you’re walking and not paying attention to your surroundings. Just look around the streets of Boston on any given day, and you’ll see what I mean.
When you use these devices while you’re walking, they decrease your awareness of your surroundings simply because you’re concentrating on what you’re listening to rather than what’s going on around you. In fact, according to an article in Injury Prevention, “The actual sensory deprivation that results from using headphones with electronic devices may be a unique problem in pedestrian accidents where auditory cues can be more important than visual ones.” In addition, when you’re listening to music on your headphones, your hearing is compromised, and you may not be able to hear a motor vehicle approaching from the rear. The statistics are alarming—the number of injuries related to headphone use has tripled between 2004 and 2011.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love earbuds. Our postman wears them all the time as he walks about and delivers the mail. He’s always listening to podcasts and is up on all the news. He often gives us the latest headlines before we hear it anywhere else. The problem is this: If you’re wearing headphones and get struck by a motor vehicle, can an insurance carrier attribute fault to you because you were not paying attention to your surroundings? Can an insurance defense attorney argue to a jury that your use of headphones contributed to your injuries? If there’s evidence that you were wearing headphones when you were involved in a pedestrian accident, I’d say it’s fair game.
So just be careful out there. All of this technology is meant to be enjoyed, but please make an effort to look around as you walk the streets with your favorite tunes playing.