This year’s Road Safety Week, which runs until Sunday, focuses on the theme of ‘slower speeds=happy people’ but national charity Deafness Research UK is reminding pedestrians to switch off or take off headphones before crossing the road when using MP3 players and iPods; it could literally be a matter of life and death.
With five deaths and over 65 serious injuries on the UK’s roads every day, Deafness Research UK is determined to put the ‘listen’ into ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ by targeting the two groups of pedestrians believed to be most at risk – those who are perhaps hard of hearing and not aware of the risk; and the increasing numbers of people listening to MP3 players which can compromise hearing, while at the same time mask the sound of oncoming traffic.
On dark winter nights it is all too easy for people to become distracted, making music players not just a potential instrument for hearing loss, but a life or death decision when crossing Britain’s roads.
While calling for slower speeds is essential, the importance of hearing in pedestrians being able to protect themselves is often overlooked, despite the fact that traffic is more often heard before it’s seen in the early morning gloom and dark nights of the winter months.
Deafness Research UK’s tips to put hearing back at the heart of the Green Cross Code include:
Remove headphones while you cross the road
Concentrate on what you can hear and pick out engine sounds from background noise
Stop talking and keep quiet while you cross
Don’t cross if you can’t hear what’s coming (if there is too much background noise)
Look after your ears and have regular hearing check-ups, especially if you’re over 40
The charity’s chief executive Vivienne Michael said: “Smartphones and music players are here to stay but all of us need to realise there’s an increased risk of injury or death on the roads if we are unable to hear oncoming traffic due to loud music.
“We’re especially concerned about young people who cross roads whilst listening to personal music players and cannot hear what’s coming.
“Good hearing is vital when crossing the road and can mean the difference between life and death.
“All of us are guilty of underestimating the value of the information our ears provide us with. In some cases our ears can be more important than our eyes, so it’s important we give our ears the best possible chance to keep us safe from harm on the roads.
“Taking a moment to remove headphones before crossing a busy street is a simple thing to do and might just save your life.”
For further information on deafness and deafness-related conditions call freephone 0808 808 2222 or visit Deafness Research UK’s website at www.deafnessresearch.org.uk