This issue is really not a new one. Ever since the birth of a portable stereo headphone radio, there has been concern about them not being able to hear the oncoming car. But now it’s getting worse and more accidents are being caused because of “Podestrians” – those listening to their favorite song or show over a type of MP3 player.
Swinton Insurance, an insurance company out of the UK just released new statistics that say more accidents are being caused by those who are not paying attention to the surroundings because they are encompassed in music, podcasts or other audio and/or video content. The average person relies on all 5 senses to go through the day. Remove one of those senses and you’re equilibrium can be off balance. Heighten one sense and the others will miss the obvious – like a car speeding at you without possibility of stopping.
Swinton Insurer Development Manager Steve Chelton states this is not a big issue at a major intersection. Quieter roads cause for less concern. A “Podestrian” will pretty much jump out of nowhere.
This is not the first time I have seen or heard about this. However there is another growing fad I’ve been seeing more and if depending on where you live, it might not be illegal to do. Listening to MP3 players while driving.
I have done it myself. When I do, I am listening to Podcasts and I only have one ear in. That would be no more of a distraction than say a cellphone headset. With the volume at a low rate, I can get the information I crave and still drive safely.
After all, especially with “Quiet interior” cars, how many times did you not know an ambulance was behind you until they were about 10-15 yards away? When you finally notice, it’s not the sound you hear, but the flashing of lights in which bring you back into reality to pull to the side.
I still see more people driving around with a white wire protruding from both ears. Who knows what level volume they are listening at. Who knows they’ll hear a oncoming car laying down the horn because their brakes have just given out.
As been stated by many sources, it takes one small distraction to get into an accident. I remember one time a guy was helping a turtle cross the road. Someone payed more attention to that rather than the car in front of them who stopped. They were lucky with a small fender bender, but it could have been worse.
I personally think we need some distraction to stay focused. For instance, right now “Highway Star” by Deep Purple is going over the speakers while I am typing this. As I am typing, I am also listening to the lyrics. I think of it like the song keeps my brain idling while I am in work mode.
However, if that song was blaring in my ears, I might put more attention to the music and therefore lose momentum on this article.
Lost in Sound – California Vehicle Code section 27400 states:
A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplus in, both ears. The doesn’t apply to emergency vehicles, a person engaged in construction equipment for highway maintenance, a garbage collector, noise attenuators, or prosthetic devices to help the hard of hearing.
Of course this law is different in other states / provinces / or countries. So are talking on a cell phone and texting / twittering. I had a friend that would drive upwards to 200 miles in a day. She fashioned her laptop to her car like a cop car has. She could then IM, email and type using one hand while the other was used to hold the wheel.
MP3 players are getting cooler. More audio features, video options and on screen buttons can become more of a distraction. When you lose one of your senses for a brief moment, distraction can come much easier. Yet we want to still rockout, not get distracted by everyday surroundings or be connected to our friends instantly. We want to be in our own little world. Unfortunately, when worlds collide, it can be disastrous.