It is pretty common knowledge that wearing headphones can be bad for your hearing, especially if you don’t take the time to use volume limiting tools, but a new study now also confirms that wearing headphones can be bad for you in other ways.
The study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, simply looked at people using iPods and other MP3 players and noted that the number of accidental deaths in traffic accidents for pedestrians wearing headphones has gone up threefold since 2004. The study did NOT look at mobile phones but it would be reasonable to expect that the numbers there would be similar.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise – more people wear headphones and what the study authors are calling ‘inattentional blindness’ (or not missing cues because you are wearing headphones and distracted) is obviously going to be a problem.
People run into problems with headphones when they have the volume too high. The problem is that they do that to drown out the outside world and hear whatever they are listening to more clearly, but that is exactly what causes hearing loss and increases in physical danger. There are no magic bullets for a solution, but here are a couple of tips. One: try to remember to turn headphones down when using them outside or in the car. Two: experiment and find and set settings that are safe for your ears and that let you hear what is around you so you can be safe.