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Distracted Pedestrian Deaths Up Nationwide [AUDIO]

Flickr User Ed Yourdon

In New Jersey, 1 in 5 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents, according to data from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. A new study shows more people are being hit by cars and trains while listening to music on their iPods.

According to research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine , serious injuries to pedestrians listening to headphones, mostly under age 30, have more than tripled in six years.

The study of 116 accident cases from 2004 to 2011 revealed that in 70% of the cases, they were killed. More than two-thirds of victims were male and under the age of 30. More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains, and nearly a third of the vehicles reported sounded a horn prior to the crash.

Pam Fischer, a New Jersey transportation safety consultant, says the report is not surprising. “When you have cell phones and iPods and all these other electronic devices in the mix…it absolutely takes your attention away from that manuever that you need to be doing, whether you are a pedestrian, a driver, a bicyclist, etc.”

The study was initiated after a teenager was killed crossing railroad tracks. The teen was wearing headphones and did not avoid the oncoming train despite honking.

Earlier this month, authorities say a man wearing headphones unknowingly walked into the side of a moving NJ Transit train in north Jersey, but escaped with only minor injuries.

“If you’ve got earbuds stuck in your ear…what are you missing? Then you are stepping out in traffic…it can really create a big hazard” said Fischer.

She says just as texting while driving is a distraction, so is walking with headphones on. “I recommend turning off the iPod or cell phone until you safely get on the train, cross that street, or pull into that parking space. Its really not worth risking your life.”

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