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Caution! Walking with headphones could kill

New Delhi: Shutting yourself from the outside world by plugging in earphones and listening to music while walking on the streets might help kill stress. But it can also kill you if one is to go by the recent accidents involving ”distracted pedestrians”.

Sixteen-year-old Kaushlendra Pal, a Delhi student, was crushed to death by a speeding train Saturday afternoon as he failed to hear the sound of an approaching train since he was listening to music on headphones in Ghaziabad.

Calling it a dangerous trend, Deepak Agrwal, assistant professor (Neurosurgery) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre, said: “At least 30 percent of deaths in road accidents occur due to the use of hand-held devices while crossing the roads.”

Several such incident have come to light in the recent past. Last year, like Pal, two school boys were mowed down by a train in Ghaziabad.

A similar case was reported in east Delhi where a 21-year-old girl died after she was hit by a bike and then a bus, because of the same reason.

“Most of them sustain head injuries and die on the spot or are hospitalised in a critical condition… The culture of listening to music on road proves to be dangerous as often pedestrians are not able to comprehend warning signals like honking or someone simply crying out,” Agrwal said.

Internationally, the US and Australia are trying to bring in laws to ban the use of headphones while walking on streets.

“Mostly youngsters below 25 keep crossing tracks with earphones, unaware that it can endanger their lives. In the NCR (national capital region), the accidents cases involving these jaywalkers are alarmingly increasing, going from bad to worse,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Railways) B.S. Gurjar said.

However, despite the rising number of such case, people remain blissfully unaware of the danger.

“What’s wrong in listening to music on the road? It is a relief from the hustle and bustle around. It is just that we need to be a little careful,” says Anita Jha, a student at the Jamia Milia University.

Harsh, a hotel management student in west Delhi, said: “Sometime there is an important call that you have to attend even if you are crossing a road or something. It is unavoidable. But those who just listen to music can avoid using earphones.”

However, some like Pratiksha Chouwdhary have become wiser after such incidents.
“Once I landed right in front of a lorry. Since then, I have become more alert and listen to music at a low volume,” she said.

Sunil Bose, a retired official of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), moots “no mobile while mobile” policy.

“This behaviour is prevalent more among youngsters, even in school children. It will only change when we start putting fine on use of phone for listening to music or attending calls while crossing roads or railway track. Otherwise, you can’t stop this menace,” he says

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