From 2004 to 2011, the number of people who have died or were injured while walking and wearing headphones rose from 16 to 47. The Guardian points us to a new U.S. study, published by Injury Prevention journal, which notes that most victims were men under the age of 30 (around 68% in both cases). 89% of the 116 total incidents occurred in urban areas, with 55% being struck by a train. Looks like these numbers are pointing directly at us, NYC!
In the cases, of which 70% were fatal, headphones were always involved, and playing "a direct part in the incident, as the users could not hear warnings that they were in danger," even in the cases where sirens were used. Researchers say the link between headphone use and pedestrian injury is either distraction or environmental isolation. They added, "The use of headphones with handheld devices may pose a safety risk to pedestrians, especially in environments with moving vehicles. Further research is needed to determine if and how headphone use compromises pedestrian safety."