Pedestrians with headphones A danger in road traffic?

Whether MP3 players, iPod, iPhone or other devices that can play music, they are part of many people’s lives. A large proportion of people today listen to music without interruption, be it in the car, on the bus or on a bicycle on the way to work. Many people are not aware that they become dangerous road users.

Headphones are absolute status symbols today. You can enjoy music at any time, wherever you are - even in traffic. However, it then becomes dangerous not only for car drivers and cyclists, but also for other road users. After all, pedestrians are moving forward without helmets and crumple zones. Statistics show that young people are responsible for two thirds of all accidents involving earplugs in the ear. Nearly 90 percent of accidents occur in cities.

With earplugs you hear vehicles too late

An experiment by experts shows how dangerous the headphones can be. In the practical test, volunteers had to signal with one hand the distance from which a school bus could be heard clearly. This was done without headphones at about 100 meters. The text with headphones is frightening. One boy only reacted when the bus was already passing behind him.

Nobody should carry out this dangerous test himself, but that is not necessary. The test can be replicated at home. For this purpose, interested people can output traffic sounds via the loudspeakers of their sound system or computer. The result: the ear cannot warn its owner of potential dangers in time. Although people can close their eyes, they cannot close their ears. The ear has a vital role to play in everyday life.

Fading of traffic sounds

How can it be explained that a bus, or any other vehicle, is no longer acoustically perceptible even from a few metres away? The reason is simple: two acoustic stimuli hit the ear, one overlapping the other - the music drowned out the traffic. The sounds are of course physically present and also reach the ear, but the inner ear is not able to process the soft sounds. Therefore, it is not necessarily a problem of volume, but a general difficulty.

People are aware of the problem, many of them have already had a “near-accident”. Nevertheless, they still listen to music. They live true to the motto “It won’t get me anyway”.

Whether MP3 players, iPod, iPhone or other devices that can play music, they are part of many people’s lives. A large proportion of people today listen to music without interruption, be it in the car, on the bus or on a bicycle on the way to work. Many people are not aware that they become dangerous road users.

Headphones are absolute status symbols today. You can enjoy music at any time, wherever you are - even in traffic. However, it then becomes dangerous not only for car drivers and cyclists, but also for other road users. After all, pedestrians are moving forward without helmets and crumple zones. Statistics show that young people are responsible for two thirds of all accidents involving earplugs in the ear. Nearly 90 percent of accidents occur in cities.

With earplugs you hear vehicles too late

An experiment by experts shows how dangerous the headphones can be. In the practical test, volunteers had to signal with one hand the distance from which a school bus could be heard clearly. This was done without headphones at about 100 meters. The text with headphones is frightening. One boy only reacted when the bus was already passing behind him.

Nobody should carry out this dangerous test himself, but that is not necessary. The test can be replicated at home. For this purpose, interested people can output traffic sounds via the loudspeakers of their sound system or computer. The result: the ear cannot warn its owner of potential dangers in time. Although people can close their eyes, they cannot close their ears. The ear has a vital role to play in everyday life.

Fading of traffic sounds

How can it be explained that a bus, or any other vehicle, is no longer acoustically perceptible even from a few metres away? The reason is simple: two acoustic stimuli hit the ear, one overlapping the other - the music drowned out the traffic. The sounds are of course physically present and also reach the ear, but the inner ear is not able to process the soft sounds. Therefore, it is not necessarily a problem of volume, but a general difficulty.

People are aware of the problem, many of them have already had a “near-accident”. Nevertheless, they still listen to music. They live true to the motto “It won’t get me anyway”.

Headphone ban for pedestrians

Because many people are so careless with their lives, CSU politician Peter Ramsauer wants to ban headphones in road traffic. The reason for this is the deliberate danger and increasing numbers of road deaths. Many pedestrians are distracted by music and they become careless. Earplugs are already banned for cyclists and motorists (paragraph 23 of the road traffic regulations). Statistics speak for the desired ban: in 2011, 3,900 people died in road traffic - the highest number in 20 years. Among pedestrians, the number of victims rose dramatically by 25 percent. When and if the headphone ban will come is questionable. In the meantime, the police are appealing to German citizens to do without headphones in road traffic. Especially car drivers and cyclists risk fines.

Argument: In the past there were also Walkmans

The counter argument of the music listeners is that Walkmans have been around for more than 30 years. Consequently, they must have always been a life-threatening piece of equipment. But this is not true, because 30 years ago there was not a comparable traffic density. There were no electric cars, which you can hardly hear even without music. The stress was less because you weren’t stuck in traffic jams for hours.

The solution

Many examples in everyday life prove that a ban often brings nothing. Drivers still like to make phone calls at the wheel, cyclists rarely adhere to the right-hand driving rule. Therefore, a ban on headphones is probably not the best solution. Instead, politicians should launch a nationwide information campaign. Insurance companies can also put an end to the trend by cutting benefits or increasing premiums in the event of an accident caused by headphones. Apart from these measures, everyone should think about their own health. That is why it is important to wear earplugs and headphones only when you are not on the road, i.e. on the underground, on the bus, on the tram or as a passenger in a car.

As a car driver, cyclist or pedestrian, you should refrain from listening to music in order not to endanger your own and your fellow human beings’ lives.

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