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Should you wear headphones while walking when you are near traffic?

You decide to walk to the grocery store. It is a half hour walk, so you grab your headphones, plug them into your phone, and turn on your favorite playlist while you walk down the sidewalk. It’s a great way to give yourself a bit more time to relax and enjoy the music while still running an errand.  

It may also be very dangerous. Studies have linked auto-pedestrian accidents and headphone use. They have also tied it to pedestrian accidents involving trains. Having those headphones on could make you more likely to be struck and seriously injured or even killed in an accident.

Of course, that’s not to say that the accident itself would be your fault. You simply may not be able to avoid someone else’s mistake.

Imagine that you’re waiting to cross the road at a crosswalk. The light changes and you get the walk signal. As you start out into the street, a driver now stopped at a red light decides to turn right. The driver tries to hurry to beat the traffic about to come through the green light.  The driver is not looking for you—she is looking for traffic while turning.

Without your headphones, you can hear the car accelerating, giving you a chance to stop walking to avoid being struck.   If you are wearing headphones, your chances of hearing an approaching car are greatly diminished.  The fact that you are in a dangerous situation if the driver does not see you, will most undoubtedly result in you being seriously injured even when you are in the crosswalk where you have the right of way.

Again, the fault here lies with the driver. Listening to music through headphones makes the walk more enjoyable, but it is important to recognize the risk .  You do have rights to compensation if you get injured.  An attorney can help you recover damages against the negligent driver.