Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Killer iPods

While back, I posted a piece and link about a woman who was jogging with her iPod playing music who was killed by a falling tree limb in a park. Police allowed as how it would have made some noise, the breaking limb, but that the jogger couldn't hear it and it got her.

In Portland recently, a young woman walking next to the MAX train tracks, wearing a hoody and with her iPod buds in her ears apparently didn't hear the train and stepped right in front of it. She died at the scene.

And now there is this. Guy jogging on the beach at Hilton Head gets hit and killed by a small plane whose propeller came off, requiring that the pilot make an emergency landing.

The plane was gliding and thus probably pretty quiet, but you have to wonder if the jogger might not have been more aware of his surroundings if his hearing wasn't occupied.

On the tree limb post, "Paying Attention" back in August of '09, I allowed as how I thought being out in public and prey to traffic with your hearing blocked was a bad idea. Listening to your music so that you couldn't hear the big truck about to run you down? Not a survival characteristic.

IPods are dangerous. Keep it in mind.


Todd Erven said...

I never wear earphones when I'm walking around or jogging. There are way too many cars, bicycles, off-leash dogs, and crazy people for me to be walking around half dead to the world.

Master Plan said...

On the other hand I like to wear headphones as an awareness exercise. How much can you see (or much do you miss) when you can't hear? Makes me check my 6 more often, more head scanning, that sort of thing.

Wandering around unaware of the world is a problem for a lotta folks.

But that doesn't mean they can't be used constructively.

Steve Perry said...

Sure, and if you are deaf, you learn how to compensate. I walked around not being able to hear a lot of small sounds for years until I got electronic aids, and it's amazing to be able to hear a car half a block away heading my way.

But if you are lost in heavy metal and you step off a curb at the wrong second, you can die.

Last study I saw said listening to MP3 players in the city was responsible for one in ten instances of people having to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian. That was in '08. Bet it has gone up since.

Deliberately shutting down one sense to heighten other is a valid exercise, but I'm guessing the number of people who do that is miniscule compared to kids blowing out their eardrums.

breeze said...

any gen X-er surely are aware of this impediment to having ones wits about them? Early 80's I don'tknow what happened, but I never wore the walkman walking the streets ever again! Funnt heo we forget the what happened bit, and just remember the "moral of the experience".

Brett said...

To be fair to the guy hit by the plane, since it hit him from behind and without an engine running would be virtually silent, he really had little chance, IPod or no. Hardly anybody checks UP for danger at the beach.
In the case of the one with the hoody up and earbuds in, she suceeded masterfully at escaping the world.
As you say, not a survival characteristic.

jks9199 said...

Evolution at work.

Yeah, a dead-stick plane landing on a beach is a freak occurrence.

Someone yelling a warning at you about a curb or about a missing manhole cover or something else along those lines is probably more likely.

And, if I'm walking on the beach, I just plain like listening to the sounds of nature!

While a conscious awareness exercise isn't a bad thing to do... an unconscious awareness shutdown or block is. And way too many people do this, between cell phones, ear phones, car stereos or other distractions.

steve-vh said...

My wife does alot of books on tape while running out in the country. She still has it low enough that she can hear a squirrel running across a yard.
I noticed in larger cities it's more common due to public transportaion and the desire to insulate yourself from the mass. I prolly would too not caring for the general public and all.

Steve Perry said...

So you are on the bus with your iPod blasting and you somehow irritate the loon across from you. He thinks you are staring at his girlfriend -- your vacant gaze because you are grooving to your music might be interpreted that way. Says "Whatchu lookin' at, asshole?"

And since you can't hear him, you don't say anything and that pisses him off, and ...

Or the woman sitting next to the window next to you says, "Oh, God, I'm sick, I'm gonna puke -- Mister, you better move!

And you don't hear that, either ...

steve-vh said...

yep, yep. All good reasons why I live in the country ALREADY.

Or, you don't hear the crazy guy and he whups on ya,

joycemocha said...

I do ski with my iPod Shuffle running. However, the Shuffle plugs into my helmet (built-in earphones) and it's sufficiently low that I can hear the scrape of someone's skis behind me, or the swoosh of a snowboard. The music I have on the Shuffle also nicely fits my moods when skiing.

Interestingly, there's a question on the Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Achievement (academic diagnostic test used to identify learning disabilities), in the Writing Samples section, which asks for a one sentence response about why it's a bad idea to wear earphones while riding a bike. Verrrry interesting results.