GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It rumbled down the tracks at close to 80 miles per hour. Thehorn blared as it closed in on the teenager walking on the tracks.
But Alan Eaton-Chandler may never have heard the Amtrak traincoming.
Would you hear it if you were wearing earbuds or headphones?
That is one of the questions as investigators look for answersinto
Witnesses say Eaton-Chandler was wearing earphones when theAmtrak train struck him from behind.
You wouldn't think a few pieces of plastic that make up a set ofearbuds wouldn't be able to drown out the noise around you.
But what 24 Hour News 8 found may surprise you.
We talked with Kenric Van Wyk, president of Acoustics by Design. His company's job is sound-- how to control it and how to measure it in decibels, orDBAs.
We took him to the corner of 28th Street and Madison Avenue insoutheast Grand Rapids.
"The noise level is in the 75 to 80 DBA range," said Van Wyk ashe points the microphone-tipped meter toward the traffic.
"That's pretty loud."
But perhaps not as loud as the sound coming through theheadphones of many MP3 players.
Even the sounds of a freight train can be masked by thesounds from a set of earbuds.
24 Hour News 8 moved to a set of train tracks off Freeman Streetin southwest Grand Rapids.
"We are measuring 85 to 90 DBA," said Van Wyk as a trainpassed.
While the locomotive would easily be heard by the naked ear, apair wrapped in headphones may not pick up the sound as well or assoon.
"You'd think a train would be so loud you wouldn't be able tohear anything else but the train. But when you're wearing iPodearbuds it can isolate you from the rest of the world," saidaudiologist Beckie Kaczmarski of
At peak levels the sound on an MP3 player can go as high as 120decibels.
Along with concerns of hearing damage there is also worry aboutaccidents. A large insurance company claims in a study that about10 percent of vehicle/pedestrian accidents involved the pedestrianwearing some kind of headphones. About half of those involvedpeople under 18.
They even have a name for them -- PODestrians.
But how do you know when loud is too loud?
"If someone else can hear the music you should turn down themusic so nobody else can hear it," said Kaczmarski. "That's yourfirst clue that it's too loud."
There is a great deal of information on noise levels and howthey can affect you on the Internet, including --
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