Most people equate car accidents as only involving two or more vehicles. But in Montana they also quite often involve a car or truck hitting a pedestrian. In these circumstances, the results are usually catastrophic, given the relative size and speed of a car versus a person walking down the street. A new study points to a large increase in the number of car accidents involving pedestrians — and researchers place the blame on a piece of modern technology that has exploded in popularity in recent years.

The study detailed that over the last six years the number serious injuries to pedestrians who were wearing music headphones tripled over that time. A pedestrian who is distracted or not able to hear signs of danger proved to be more likely to be hit by a vehicle. Often, according to the findings, motorists sometimes warned pedestrians of impending danger by honking their horns, but even in some of those instance, a pedestrian was injured anyway. Sadly, in more than 70 percent of the accidents reviewed, the pedestrian was killed.

The study was a joint effort by researchers at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine and Medical Center.

Under Montana state law, cars must yield to pedestrians at intersection crosswalks or when a vehicle is entering from a driveway, but a pedestrian must yield the right of way when crossing a street without a crosswalk or when directed to by a traffic signal. If an accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian occurs, the pedestrian potentially has the right to seek damages. The damages may include medical bills, loss of wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

However, if pedestrians who have been hit by a car are proven to have contributed to the accident by wearing headphones and not paying attention to traffic safety laws, then the amount of damages they can seek in such an accident may be limited by the proportion for which they’re at fault.

With the advent and popularization of portable electronic music devices and the headphones that come with them, it seems likely that this trend of pedestrian accidents will continue to rise. This is why it is important for Billings drivers and pedestrians alike to be mindful of all traffic safety laws.

Source: USA Today, “More headphone-wearing walkers hit by cars,” Chris Woodyard, Jan. 17, 2012