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Tragic death of Auckland teen struck by train leads parents to support One Ear Out campaign

Parents of an Auckland teen killed by a train while jogging with headphones in are rallying support for the international One Ear Out campaign.

Many Kiwis tune out to the wider world listening to music while exercising. Source: Seven Sharp

The US initiative encourages pedestrians to stay safe while moving through public streets by always leaving one ear free of a music playing earbud.

Karamea and Presley Matthes got behind the One Ear Out campaign after the tragic death of their 16-year-old son Keenan, who was hit by a train in Ranui on April 20.

"He had training at 10 o'clock that morning so he didn’t really have to go for that run but that was just him, so focused, so driven, and he never came home," Karamea Matthes said.

"It's easily being distracted, it just takes a split second and then something like this could happen."

Hearing expert Dr David Welch said our hearing actually evolved to alert us to dangers behind us and at our periphery.

"Because these things [earbuds] are sitting in your ears, and your phone has quite a lot of power in it so that can drown out almost anything," Welch said.

The One Ear Out campaign was started by a man in the US whose daughter was also killed by a train while working to work with headphones on.

Simply, it's about only having an earphone in one ear only, and the Matthes are trying to bring awareness about it to New Zealand.

"What really want to do is start campaign here New Zealand campaign," Karamea Matthes said.

"Australia has one, so to try and start one here bringing awareness to young children.

"And I know if it was Keenan, one of his mates, he would be like ‘Mum what can we do’."