Tuesday June 15, 2021
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Info: Are headphones a hazard in traffic?

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Share The Road Headphones 8D Sound Info: Are headphones dangerous in traffic?

With a sound experiment commissioned by Ford, Ford shows that people who listen to music through headphones need on average over four seconds longer to recognize potential dangers in traffic. A specially developed app called “Share The Road: Safe And Sound” uses 8D audio technology to measure the effects of headphones on responsiveness. As part of a study, more than 2.000 participants from all over Europe were acoustically brought into dangerous traffic situations in order to measure their reaction times. After this simulation experience, most of the participants said that they would never wear headphones while driving again:

Headphones are great for listening to music or podcasts. They provide excellent sound and help many people concentrate or relax by blocking out background noise and other distractions. However, wearing headphones in the car, on bicycles and e-scooters, and on the sidewalk can be dangerous. In some countries, such as France, headphones are even banned on the road.

Research project correlates survey with smartphone app

The study looked at the road use and listening habits of people from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The participants were first asked about their attitude to the risk while riding a bike or scooter and when walking. The majority of the test persons stated that they had already been out and about with headphones on. Of the 56 percent of people surveyed who were already involved in a near-miss or an actual accident, 27 percent were wearing headphones at the time of the incident.

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Following the survey, the participants were invited to run the specially developed app called “Share The Road: Safe And Sound” on their smartphones. The app uses spatial “8D” audio technology so that participants can immerse themselves realistically in a virtual reality. Directional sound is achieved through a complex process of swiveling and balancing, which enables the app to generate highly realistic sound simulations - such as an emergency vehicle approaching from behind.

Participants' response to these dangers was measured in three different scenarios, both with and without music. On average, participants were 4,2 seconds slower to identify and respond to a hazard when playing music. Through intensive follow-up surveys, the researchers were also able to show how effective the app was in changing attitudes towards road safety among the participants. Before the experiment, around 44 percent of those surveyed stated that they would generally not wear headphones when they were out. After that, 58 percent promised never to wear them again. In retrospect, 64 percent said that overall they would listen to music through headphones less often while they were out and about.

Ford has now made the "Share The Road: Safe and Sound" app freely available. It can be accessed with a smartphone at https://Fordsharetheroad8d.com/.

“Sound events play a crucial role in recording our immediate environment - we very often hear important things around us before we see them. While headphones can be beneficial for us in many situations, they block important acoustic warnings on the road. This means that we may not be able to perceive nearby vehicles or road users, which may put them and us at risk, ”said Dr. Maria Chait, Professor of Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London.

"With this research project, we are highlighting an often underestimated problem of road safety," said Emmanuel Lubrani, Share The Road, Ford of Europe. "For everyone who owns a smartphone, we hope that our" Share The Road - Safe And Sound "app will raise awareness of the reality of wearing headphones in traffic".

Share The Road

The Ford project “Share The Road” aims to make traffic in urban areas safer. With the award-winning “WheelSwap” glasses, users can see the consequences of reckless driving through the eyes of other road users. The emoji jacket introduced last year is also intended to point out the challenges in communication between drivers and cyclists. The prototype jacket enables cyclists to signal their intentions and provide feedback to other road users.

Share The Road Headphones 8D Sound Info: Are headphones dangerous in traffic?

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