Lawmakers Around The World Seek To Criminalize Headphone Users

Press Release   •   Feb 25, 2011 21:10 GMT

Headphone related accidents around the world are being reported almost on a daily basis and seem to be on the increase.

In Australia headphones are blamed as a contributing factor to the 25 per cent rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities in New South Wales.

Harold Scruby, of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said: ''We should be asking ourselves why are total road deaths declining while pedestrian fatalities continue to escalate? Maybe listening devices could be part of the explanation.''

The AA motoring organisation claimed that ‘pedestrian inattention’ could be a major contributing factor in some of the 500 pedestrian deaths or 26,887 pedestrian casualties in the UK last year.

Edmund King, AA president, said: "We can't stop the march of technology but we need to halt the 'iPod pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies'.

Following extensive research, the Automobile Association claims that ‘headphone zombie pedestrians and joggers’ could be the cause of 17 collisions each day and note a 5% increase in these type of collisions in the last year.

A similar increase in pedestrian deaths in the US has prompted lawmakers to target ‘distracted pedestrians and cyclists'.

Lawmakers in Oregon, Virginia and California want to introduce legislation banning cyclists from wearing headphones or earbuds.

Oregon, representative Michael Schaufler wants to introduce a $90 fine for headphone users, while in New York, long time anti headphones campaigner Senator Carl Kruger claims Pedestrian iPod use is a “public safety crisis” and wants to introduce fines of $100 imposed on anyone crossing a street wearing headphones.

Alex Georgiou, a spokesperson for Awareness! The Headphone App publishers Essency, stated that while headphone isolation can be dangerous and is rightfully highlighted, any proposed legislation to ‘criminalize’ headphones is an infringement on human rights.

“I’m more concerned about inattentive drivers not pedestrians. Senator Carl Kruger cites a recent incident in New York where a young student was killed on Madison Avenue while wearing headphones as one of the reasons he reinstated the ‘anti headphones’ proposal he first tried and failed to introduce in 2007.

What Senator Carl Kruger fails to mention is that the truck was illegally reversing down a one-way street in the wrong direction and that it dragged the victim 30 feet before it stopped. It seems more likely it was the lack of awareness of the driver not the victim that’s to blame for this particular accident yet the driver was not charged.”

Georgiou went on to say that the increase of headphone related accidents coincides with technology advancement, as headphones get better at noise isolation.

“Previously the concern was that headphone users were damaging their hearing because they were cranking up the volume to mask background noise, the advice at the time was to use noise isolating or noise cancelling headphones at lower volumes."

"Raising awareness of the dangers of headphone isolation is absolutely the right thing to do; trying to introduce unenforceable legislation to criminalize headphones is of no help to anyone.”

“This is a technological user problem that requires a technological solution.”

UK campaign director of Youth for Road Safety claimed ‘Your earphones could kill you’.

"You can legislate until you are blue in the face. On the issue of iPods we just need to raise awareness."


Awareness! The Headphone app publisher essency was formed in 2009, a collaboration between experienced sound recording engineers, programmers and musicians. essency design apps to enhance the usefulness and usability of headphones and mobile music playing devices on iOS, Android, and Symbian operating systems such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.