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Is it illegal to drive with headphones?

by Bethann E. Danley

Headphones are the best companions of the cosmopolitan folks driving back home after a full day’s hard labor at the office. Most of the times, you hit the road in the hope of a good drive and there you are, caught up yet again in the city traffic.

The tired fingers start searching for every city driver’s best friend- your very own headphones! But is it illegal to drive with your headsets on? Moreover, ever thought how safe it is for you and your loved ones?

wearing headphones

What does the Law Say?

The law differs according to States, but there is one consensus in all – that driving with headphones can be dangerous and one that you should avoid as far as possible.

  • In most of the US states, driving with headphones is legally permitted, with of course some exceptions.
  • In New York, there is a prohibition on driving with more than one earphone.
  • In Certain states, there are restrictions for specific categories like school bus drivers.
  • Washington permits you to use hands-free wireless systems.
  • Even in States like Ohio and Florida where headphones or earbuds are prohibited while driving, hearing aids are allowed. Some other states like Illinois permit motorcycle helmet audio systems, and one ear earpieces.

driving headphones

Why do Most Governments Make it Illegal To Drive with Headphones?

These provisions were in the limelight in the last few years after many accidents including fatal ones were reported due to the use of gadgets.

Here is what can go wrong.

1. It is easy to get distracted

You could be casually chatting with someone over the phone or even just listening to music. Many of you may feel that concentration in driving does not really take a back seat by using headsets. Well, the law has one pure logic- anything that could divert attention is a violation, and hence strict action is warranted.

2. Delays your Response Time in Emergency Situations

Some of you could very well argue that using headphones do not distract them. Most of the states do not differentiate whether you use a hands-free device or blue tooth set up. We would probably act sooner when it comes to updating technology in our legal clauses.

The Top Tips to Help You If You Need to Put on An Earphone

You could keep some safety tips in mind, in case you are an everyday headphones user while driving. Let some noise in, so that you are aware of your surroundings.

  • Consider leaving one ear free, so that you do not miss out on the relevant outside noises.
  • You do not want to miss out on an emergency siren or an accident on the road.
  • Take extra care than a four wheeler, if you are a biker or bicyclist.
  • Refrain from browsing through your phone or changing songs while driving.
  • For all I know, you could probably fix up a playlist in advance.


drivers who use a Bluetooth

What Should You Remember if You Are Trying to Use Headphones while Driving?

Even when it is illegal in your residing state, it finally boils to your conscience – the decision is yours whether you want to use headphones or would like to keep them away while driving. Let me help you with some food for thought. Let’s start by asking yourself a few questions.

  • Are you the kind of person who will get lost in the music and wander away to another world in your thoughts?
  • Are you able to concentrate better or less with music in the background?
  • Are your reflex actions as strong as they are otherwise while drinking with headphones on?
  • If you are the type of person who takes serious work or personal calls over a drive, do you want to risk your emotions taking over if the conversation doesn’t go smooth?

Last but most importantly, it is required to know and acknowledge the fact that driving with your headphones on is a risk you take, even if you feel it will not distract you. After all, we have not yet figured a major part of how the human brain works and reacts! So, a final question to ask yourself – Is it really worth the risk?

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