Earphones can blind teens to their surroundings - FOX 13 News

Earphones can blind teens to their surroundings

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Seventeen-year-old Enrique Hernandez missed the bus and ended up walking, but he never made it to Tenoroc High School. The teenager was hit and killed by a minivan on Old Dixie Highway, near U.S. 92. It was dark, and the road has no street lights or sidewalks.

Enrique might not have heard the car coming because investigators think he was wearing headphones, as so many teenagers do.

Annie Barkevich says it's a battle she has with her son.

"He's 11 and he wears his headphones all the time. And he's addicted to them, and they have to be super loud, so he can't hear anything," Annie Barkevich said.

She says she also has to battle her daughter over headphones.

"She would like to wear them and ride her bike and we always have to tell them, you can't wear headphones and ride your bike because you can't hear and the walking is the same concept, I think," she said.

Pediatrician Dr. Patrick Mularoni, with All Children's Hospital, says the emergency room often sees young people with injuries they've gotten because they were distracted. He recommends kids not wear ear buds or headphones while walking at all.

"If kids are walking to school with ear buds in, then they're going to be walking distracted," said Dr. Mularoni. "And they need to be able to pay attention to their surroundings. And if they're not able to pay attention to their surroundings with their hearing - that's one of their biggest senses - that's a scary thing."

Sweatshirts that are designed with headphones built in are also gaining popularity.

Distracted walking is becoming such a problem that some states have even considered outlawing it.

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