Cases of teens dying wearing their iPods are mounting. Is your kid's life at risk?
18-year-old Andrew Haslam was wearing his iPod Monday night as he jogged along the train tracks. He didn't hear the train's horn or see the onlookers trying to get his attention, and was tragically struck and killed.
This isn't the first time a portable music device has put a young person's life at risk. Almost half of all drivers under 30 use iPods and MP3 players while behind the wheel, increasing their risk of a collision, new research shows. One in five drivers in that age group also used headphones, potentially distracting them and reducing their awareness of traffic, horns and sirens.
Engineer Donald L. Fisher of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst carried out a study on drivers taking their iPods on the road. His findings were alarming: everyone focused on the device for a full two seconds at least once while driving, increasing the risk of having a car accident by three times.
Australian ad agency DDB Sydney did an ad campaign for the New South Wales Police "to raise awareness of the fact that the number of teenagers dying as a result of listening to ipods whilst they cross the road is beginning to reach "epidemic proportions." The picture accompanying this article is from that campaign. It is certainly attention-grabbing!
Here are some other tragic headphone-related deaths:
• Isaiah Otieno, from Kenya, was crossing a street in a quiet Canadian neighborhood when a helicopter struggling to stay airborne suddenly dropped on top of him. Otiena was wearing headphones and may not have heard the downward spiralling chopper.
• 14-year-old Calvin Spencer was killed when he was walking with his head down along some railroad tracks and was wearing a personal music device with headphones. One witness said the engineer repeatedly blasted his horn to try to alert the boy.
• A Canadian student in-line skating while wearing headphones slid under a tractor-trailer he failed to notice until the last minute.
• A 21-year-old Brooklyn man who was listening to an iPod when he stepped in front of a bus. (Last year, New York Senator Carl Kruger's bill to ban the use of iPods, cellphones or other electronic devices while crossing the street motivated by this man's death was defeated.)
• Jordan Bell, 14, was killed after walking in front of a speeding car as she listened to her iPod.
• Abigail Haythorne, 17, died of severe head injuries after she cycled into the path of an oncoming car, apparently without noticing it. She was wearing her iPod at the time of the accident.
• Michael Juszkiewicz, 33, was wearing an iPod when he was struck and killed by a train after leaving a friend's home.
• Tyler King, 18, was wearing an iPod was killed after being hit from behind by a freight train.
"Anything that distracts a person when they should be concentrating is a potential hazard," pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says. "This is why drivers shouldn't dial or text and drive. It is also why there have been reports of pedestrians getting involved in accidents with cars while texting and crossing the street. It seems logical to extend that to iPods too. And there's an additional risk: if the music is loud or engrossing, it can make it impossible to hear oncoming vehicles. So if you want to take a walk or a jog with your music, just keep the volume low enough that you can stay tuned in to your surroundings."
The iPod owner's manual says: "Use of headphones while operating a vehicle is not
recommended and is illegal in some areas. Be careful and attentive while driving. Stop
using iPod if you find it disruptive or distracting while operating any type of vehicle or
performing any other activity that requires your full attention."
Do you kids listen to iPods while walking, riding their bikes, or driving?