Is It Illegal To Drive With Headphones?

Headphones are a great way to enjoy music while driving and escape traffic stress. However, it can highly increase the risks of accidents. While some states ban using headphones while driving, some still allow them. So, let’s discuss: Is it illegal to drive with headphones? If yes, why?

Driving While Wearing Headphones Or Earphones

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We all love listening to music in headphones or earphones while driving. It makes the time fly and is a great way to stay entertained on long trips. But is it safe to do so? Many experts say no.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 alone. Headphones are a distraction because they take your focus off the road and can prevent you from hearing important sounds like horns and sirens. [1]

Why Is It Illegal To Wear Earbuds While Driving?

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If you’re one of those people who still think it’s safe to drive while wearing headphones, think again. It’s not worth the risk, no matter how good of a driver you are. Here are four reasons why you should never drive with headphones on. 

  1. You are unable to hear your surroundings. When you’re wearing headphones, you’re essentially cut off from the outside world. You can’t hear what’s going on around you, which means you could miss something important, like a car horn or ambulance siren. 
  2. It’s a distraction. Wearing headphones while driving can be a significant distraction. Not only are you more likely to take your eyes off the road to adjust them, but you’re also more likely to be distracted by the music itself. [2]
  3. If you’re not an earbuds user, your wired headphones could get tangled. If your headphones get tangled while you’re driving, it could be a serious distraction. Not to mention, it could be dangerous if you’re trying to untangle them while you’re behind the wheel. 
  4. It’s illegal in some states. In some states, it’s actually illegal to drive while wearing headphones. So even if you think it’s safe, you could still get pulled over and fined. 
  5. Furthermore,  when listening to music in earbuds paired to a phone, you’ll need to deal with switching/pausing songs or regulating volume while driving. This causes further interaction with your mobile device and more distraction on the road. And using a cellphone while driving is a widely-restricted thing every driver is aware of. [3]

Overall, driving with headphones is a bad idea. It’s unsafe and it’s not worth risking.

 

Do I Lose License For Driving With Headphones?

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 Most states have laws prohibiting the use of headphones while driving, but the penalties for breaking these laws vary. In some states, you may only be issued a warning for the first offense. However, in other states, you may be fined or have your driver’s license suspended. 

If you are caught using headphones while driving and are issued a ticket, you should check with an attorney to find out how it will impact your driver’s license. In some states, a first offense is not enough to trigger a license suspension. However, if you have prior offenses or if you are caught using headphones while driving on a suspended license, you may lose your license for a period of time. [4]

Headphones While Driving: Laws By State 

Most states have laws against distracted driving, but only a few specifically mention headphones. 

Here’s a breakdown of the states’ laws against headphones while driving:

State law prohibits drivers from wearing headphones or earphones that cover both ears while operating a vehicle.  There is no state law banning headphones while driving. 
Alaska Texas [6]
Colorado Alabama
California [5] Arkansas
Louisiana Connecticut
Florida [7] Deleware
Maryland Washington D.C. [8]
Massachusetts Hawaii
Minnesota Idaho
New York Indiana
Ohio [9] Kansas
Pennsylvania Kentucky
Rhode Island Maine
Virginia Michigan
Washington Mississippi
Georgia  Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oklahoma
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennesee
Utah
Vermont
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

 

As you can see, the vast majority of states permit the use of headphones while driving. 

It’s crucial to remember that even in states where it’s prohibited, there are frequently exceptions for things like wearing hearing aids, offering protection, and even wearing a device in only one ear rather than both. 

Emergency workers like firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers, and others might also be granted exclusions.

Is It Safe To Use Headphones While Driving On An Empty Road?

Though you may feel more relaxed driving on an empty road while listening to your favorite tunes, it is not safe to use headphones while behind the wheel. 

Even if there are no other vehicles around, anything can happen while you’re driving, and you need to be alert and ready to react at all times. 

Imagine, for example, that a deer suddenly runs out in front of your car. If you’re wearing headphones or even driving barefoot, you may not hear it coming, and by the time you realize what’s happening, it may be too late to avoid hitting it. 

There are also dangers posed by using headphones while driving that have nothing to do with other people or animals. When you’re wearing headphones, you’re more likely to be distracted and not pay close attention to your surroundings. 

This can lead to missing a turn or not seeing a stop sign, both of which could cause an accident. So, even though it may seem harmless, it’s not a good idea to use headphones while driving on an empty road (or any road, for that matter). Put them away and enjoy the silence of the open road instead. [10]

Can I Use Bluetooth While Driving?

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We’ve all been tempted to use our phones while driving to check messages, make calls, or switch music, but it’s important to remember that it’s illegal in many states.

 Bluetooth can be a great alternative to listening to music whilst staying connected while on the road, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

For starters, it’s important to make sure that your phone is paired with your car’s Bluetooth system before you start driving. This way, you won’t have to fiddle with your phone while you’re behind the wheel. 

Once your phone is paired, you can make hands-free calls, listen to music, and even use navigation apps. 

However, it’s important to use Bluetooth responsibly. Even though you’re not holding your phone, it’s still a distraction. So, if you’re going to use Bluetooth while driving, make sure you’re not also doing other things that could take your attention away from the road. 

Tips To Drive With Headphones Safely

If you absolutely must listen to music while driving and are sure it’s not against the law in your state, you should follow a few safety tips. 

Make sure your headphones are comfortable, so you’re not fidgeting with them while driving. 

Pay attention to the volume. Don’t blast your music so loud that you can’t hear other sounds around you, including horns, sirens, and tires squealing.

Be aware of your surroundings. Wearing headphones while driving can limit your ability to hear what’s going on around you. Pay extra attention to your mirrors and blind spots, and look both ways before crossing streets or pulling into traffic.

Keep one ear free. If you can, wear headphones that allow you to hear sounds from outside and the audio device. Or, take one earbud out so you can listen to traffic noise and other sounds.

Don’t wear them all the time. If you can, take breaks from wearing headphones while driving or limit the amount of time you wear them. The more you wear headphones, the more likely you will become distracted.

Pull over to change songs. Don’t try to change songs or adjust the volume on your audio device while driving. Pull over to a safe spot before making any changes. [11]

How To Get Attention Of Driver Using Headphones

If you are a pedestrian and see someone driving with headphones on, you may wonder how to get their attention. Maybe you need to cross the street, or perhaps you need to tell them something important. Whatever the reason, getting the attention of a driver who has headphones on can be challenging. Here are a few tips: 

  1. Use hand gestures. Wave your arms or use hand signals to get the driver’s attention. 
  2. Tap on the window. If the driver is stopped at a light, try tapping on the window to get their attention. 
  3. Make noise. Try banging on the hood of the car or shouting. 
  4. Use a flashlight. If it is dark outside, you can try shining a flashlight at the driver to get their attention. 
  5. Write a note. If you can’t get the driver’s attention, try writing a note and placing it on the windshield.

Bottom Line

So, can you wear AirPods while driving? It depends. Always research and read laws about the state you plan to drive with headphones first.

 However, no matter how experienced a driver you are, AirPods can still distract you and lead to accidents. After all, you can always use Bluetooth, connect your music to your vehicle, and enjoy it loudly. You will maintain your attention on the road and will stay focused. Drive Safe!