A new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that listening to music while crossing the street is more hazardous than texting or talking on the phone.
"Your brain has to process much information to cross a street safely," said David Schwebel, Ph.D., director of UAB's Youth Safety Laboratory.
"The car on your left - how fast is it going, how far away is it and is it accelerating or decelerating? Same for the car on your right. And in addition to that you have to think about the width of the road and how quickly you can cross that distance," Schwebel explained.
More than 125 students were tested without distractions, while texting, while talking on a cell phone and while listening to music with ear buds.
People talking on the phone were twice as likely to be hit as those with zero distractions - 12 percent compared to 6 percent. People texting were twice as likely to be hit as those talking, up to 25 percent.
But Schwebel, who has performed many pedestrian safety studies, was stunned to find that one in three people listening to music with ear buds failed to cross the street safely.
"The driving literature suggests that listening to the radio while driving is not particularly dangerous. We found that listening to music while crossing the street is dangerous, and I did not anticipate that," stated Schwebel.
"The big thing with music is that your ears are distracted. You are listening to the music - and not listening to the traffic.
"I suspect that we use our ears quite a bit more than we realize to safely cross the street," He added.
The study was published online in Accident Analysis and Prevention.