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In what can only be described as a heartbreaking accident, teen victim Christopher Neves was struck and killed on train tracks in New Caney, Texas. Reports indicate that the train’s attempts to brake did not prevent the collision, nor did repeated blasts from the train’s horn.

Role of headphones

A key factor in the tragedy may have been the headphones that the victim wore while he walked to visit his girlfriend. While it’s clear Neves probably did not see how close the train was, in all likelihood his headphones probably prevented him from hearing the train’s horn. The truth about the exact circumstances, however, may never be known.

Regrettably, Neves is not the first train collision victim whose accident may have been at least partially caused by the use of headphones. In another recent case, a train collided with and killed a 15-year-old victim who crossed the tracks while wearing headphones. Officials also discovered the victim had sent three text messages from her Blackberry in close proximity to the accident.

Distinct dangers of headphones

According to a study carried out by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, headphones have caused pedestrian injuries to triple over a six year period. Lead author of the study Dr. Richard Lichenstein noted that while most people are cognizant of the risks associated with cell phones and texting in cars, few people consider the extent to which headphones distract pedestrians from noticing changes in their environments.

According to Lichenstein’s study, 55 percent of vehicles involved in headphone-related accidents are trains, with 29 percent of the vehicles using a horn or other audible warning system to attempt to alert pedestrians. Tragically, three-quarters of headphone-related pedestrian injuries result in fatalities. Clearly, steps must be taken to minimize the risks of headphones, including removing them during any potentially dangerous situations, such as heavy traffic areas and train crossings.

Injuries and death related to train collisions involve complex legal issues that should be directed to highly qualified legal counsel with vast knowledge in this area of practice.

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