In this report, BAYO ALADE and TADE MAKINDE write that deaths arising from the use of an earpiece especially by young people is on the increase, noting that even when tragedies do not result from its use, there are other possible dangers.
NOWADAYS it is very common, especially among young people, to always plug their ears with earpieces to listen to music on the go.
Most times they get carried away to the extent that every effort to get their attention often falls flat. To this extent, some of them had fallen victims of some accidents in recent times.
Late last year, a 31-Year-old Nigerian, Benson Uchenna Nwughala, was crushed to death by a fast-moving train at a train station in San Romano, Montopoli, Italy.
According to reports Benson had an earpiece on while crossing the train track before getting crushed by the speeding train.
Not only that, a man identified as Fatai Mutiu Abolade was recently crushed to death by a train in the Ikeja area of Lagos State at about 7.30 am.
Witnesses said Fatai was walking along the rail tracks answering calls on his phone without the aid of an earpiece.
Another source, however, said the deceased was simply busy with his mobile phone without paying attention to a train coming behind him.
It was learnt that by the time he was alerted by bystanders, the train had closed in and crushed him.
Some bystanders at the scene could not understand why the tragedy happened despite attempts by several people to draw his attention to the train behind him.
An identity card later found in his pocket revealed that he was an undergraduate student of Business Administration at the University of Lagos.
Before then just last month another tragedy happened when one man identified as Fatai Bolaji was crushed to death by a train in Ikeja area of Lagos State at about 9.00 a.m.
The victim said to be about 40 years old was also suspected to be listening to music with his ear-piece as he walked on the rail track between Ile-Zik and the railway crossing at Ikeja when he was crushed.
At the time of his death, he was spotting a white shirt and black trousers to match. He had a laptop tucked in his bag which was found pulverized.
There had been a few other similar tragedies before now raising concerns over the use of earpieces while throwing caution to the wind where personal safety should have been of utmost importance.
Just days back, a female youth corps member died in a similar circumstance.
A legal practitioner, Barrister Akinyemi Akintayo, while reacting to the incidents in an interview with Sunday Tribune said though the tragedies were regrettable the victims could still get legal redress depending on the circumstances of the tragedy.
“If the driver is reckless, it can happen. But if he is within the laws, he can’t be held liable. For instance, if the law stipulates that a driver shouldn’t do more than 40/60/80 miles per hour; if he’s not using routes created for pedestrians and crushes someone, he can not be held liable.
“If someone is going on the stipulated speed limit, though he is expected to consider other road users, a man with an earpiece, who probably would not hear the honks of a vehicle, cannot sue the driver who hits him.
“Besides, the use of earpiece has its place in law. Unless one is certified to be deaf, it would be an act of contributory negligence on the part of an earpiece user if anything happens to him on the road. But then, a driver should also caution himself while in a vehicle, while the pedestrian equally owes the driver a duty to utilise the (specified) road.
“If a pedestrian is where he is rightfully permitted to be, for instance, using the pedestrian cross, he can seek redress if hit at such designated areas,” Akintayo said.
A psychologist, Professor Olasoji Aremu of the Psychology Department, University of Ibadan, in his contribution said laws and regulations are supposed to be adhered to very strictly in Nigeria as elsewhere, but it appears not so.
“However, it (use of earpiece) has become a social farce that is being abused by young adults who see it as a social-status thing. This, unfortunately, has brought up some consequences in form of fatal accidents, earplug-dependent behaviours, and reduction in interpersonal relationships with significant others.
“Nigerians, especially young adults, have not only abused social mechanisms that ordinarily should enhance the quality of life, they have also endangered themselves through the usage of them,” Prof. Aremu said.
A medical practitioner, Dr Ajagbe Bolaji in an interview with Sunday Tribune said Using an earpiece as instructed does not, in itself, create health issues but its abuse can.
He added that relying too much on hearing aids when not needed can result in an impaired hearing. He said that putting too much pressure on the eardrums not only wears it down but could eventually stop one from hearing completely.
“One can suffer partial deafness or permanent ear impairment. While one could use it once in a while such as receiving calls while driving, long or permanent use affects the synapse by putting undue pressure on eyes and ears, thereby affecting the nervous system. When the nerves begin to get tired of such pressures, they begin to malfunction,” he added.
Another medical practitioner, Dr Victor Adeyefa, corroborated Dr Agbaje’s view, adding that addictive use of earphones could result in brain cancer.