Wearing Headphones While Driving: Is it Illegal?

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This article will make me feel ashamed of myself, and I know that when I’m going to tell you the reason, you are going to laugh at me, but regardless, I’m going to speak up, because you know that I always like to be honest with you, and this time won’t be any different.

The title of this article makes me feel uncomfortable with myself. Let me explain. A few years ago, 6 years to be more precise, I got my driving license (and there it, Olivia Rodrigo in my head, singing driving license).

Still to this day, I have no idea how I am able to drive because when I set my mind to get a driving license, I didn’t know even the basics. However, there are things that I haven’t been able to get better at or improve in some way, such as parallel parking. Gosh, I hate it.

Yes, go ahead, now that you know the reason why I get irritated with this article’s title, you can freely laugh at me. I mean, I love and enjoy driving, but when it comes to parallel parking, I really lack some skills there.

However, I thought, what if I try to do the parallel parking with headphones on?! What a strange method to come with, right?! Well, what can I do, creativity is not my strongest suit, but sometimes I come up with the wildest ideas, such as this one. And then I kept thinking, and I thought, is it legal to drive with headphones on?

We know for a fact that is perfectly legal to listen to the stereo speakers that the car has to offer, but headphones?

That is how I came up with the idea to write this article! Sometimes I think, maybe I’m underestimating myself, maybe creativity is my strongest suit, but I just haven’t discovered it yet!

Nevertheless, if you are done laughing at me, I’m going to continue writing this article and ask the question that I asked myself, but I’m pretty sure that you have asked the same question yourself, as well. Okay, I’m just going to say that I’m writing this article with Olivia’s song in the background. Here I go! 

Is It Illegal To Wear Headphones While Driving?

Road safety experts believe that driving while you wear headphones is risky since it could distract you.

According to data from the Department of Transportation, 15% of all traffic car accidents are the result of distracted driving. More troublingly, distractions were to blame for 26% of traffic fatalities.

However, no explicit regulation specifically forbids the use of headphones while driving, despite the surge in the usage of smartphones for music and navigational purposes.

Driven to distraction

However, driving while wearing headphones could still be considered a violation of the law.

Avoiding distractions while driving or riding is advised for drivers. “Loud music” is one of the lists of examples for distraction.

Nelson and Nilsson’s 1990 study indicated that drivers who were wearing headphones took longer to respond to risks. They drove faster as a result of their impaired ability to judge speed.

Risk of Fines and Points: Police Officers

A police officer has the authority to issue a fine on-the-spot fine for reckless driving. This comes with a three-point driving license endorsement. More serious offenses might be taken to court. A nine penalty points, or even a driving ban may follow this. So yeah you can easily receive a fine for dangerous driving.

It means that even though there is no particular rule that forbids using headphones while driving, violations may nonetheless occur. If the music is loud enough to be disturbed while being listened to over car speakers, the same offenses may be committed.

You should be fine if only one ear is covered by your headphone. With one ear covered you can pay attention to what is going around you and have a better awareness of your surroundings.

Not only that but having only one ear covered will also aid you when it comes to hearing loss. Headphones can seriously mess with your hearing, especially if you use them daily on high volumes. If this goes on, headphones won’t be the thing you will be wearing instead you will be wearing hearing aid devices.

A Global Perspective

The danger of driving while wearing headphones has been addressed by countries all around the world. According to a study done by the insurance comparison website Quotezone, rules prohibiting the use of headphones while driving have been passed in 17 US states.

Wearing sound-emitting equipment while operating a motor vehicle, riding a bicycle, or both became forbidden in France in July 2015. A €135 fine or a three-point driving license endorsement are the penalties for this. This punishment would be equivalent to that for not using a seatbelt, for comparison.

Is using headphones while driving dangerous?

According to Thomas J. Henry Law, one of the riskiest things you can do is drive while wearing headphones. Only using one’s eyes while driving is never safe, you are obliged to use each of your senses. Hearing is crucial, especially when it comes to being aware of emergency vehicles traveling at high speeds.

Even while there are good reasons, including using headphones for navigation or making a call, it’s still risky to do so. If you want to keep yourself and other road users safe, you must be able to constantly use your eyes and hearing.

Final Words

Okay, I think the answer to my question and I hope you also got the answer loud and clear. So, let me do a summary of everything that I wrote above.

So, wearing headphones while driving is not necessarily illegal. However, that depends on the countries and states. Some states consist of laws that condemn the usage of headphones while driving, whereas some other states don’t have such laws and in those states, driving with headphones is totally legal. However, does that mean that you can drive with headphones on?

It is highly risky and dangerous to drive with headphones on. Doing so, you are putting not only yourself in danger but also other people who happen to be in the traffic like you.

But, wearing headphones while driving is not dependent only on the state, it is also dependent on the purpose of wearing them. For instance, if you are wearing them for navigation purposes, that’s a whole different story. But, even if you are wearing the headphones for navigation purposes, make sure you are wearing only one of them, if you are wearing earbuds. 

If I have to come up with a verdict here, I would advise myself and you, not to wear headphones while driving. That way you will be constantly aware of your surroundings, and you will avoid any kind of car accident that might occur. 

Further Reading

Find out how long should headphones last or why do your headphones sound muffled. And you can also read about how to tell if your speaker is blown.

Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!



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