Is It Legal to Wear Earbuds While Driving? Here’s the Law In Every US State.

Is it legal to wear earbuds while driving?

Everyone listens to music in the car.  But is it legal to wear earbuds while driving?  Or, headphones?  Here’s the law in every US State.

Please note: this article only covers the law for the United States.  But we’ll be adding the entire world once we figure out those laws!  Also, the law applies pretty much equally to both headphones and earbuds, not to mention newer technologies like Airpods.  

Listening to music while driving makes sense.  Driving without music can lead to insanity.  But, there are regulations on how you can listen to music while operating a motor vehicle in certain states.  So is it illegal to wear earbuds while driving?  We checked with the Automobile Association of America (AAA) for the answer.

Is It Legal to Wear Earbuds While Driving?

Here's the law in every US state.
AlabamaIt's legal!
AlaskaHeadphones and earbuds are not permitted, except when used for navigational purposes. Hearing aids okay.
ArizonaIt's legal, though not for school bus drivers or anyone transporting children for a daycare facility.
ArkansasIt's legal!
California Headphones and earbuds illegal, and that includes bicycles too. The only exception is for hearing aids, and to protect against 'injurious' noise levels.
ColoradoHeadphones or earbuds covering both ears is prohibited, except for audio systems built into motorcycle helmets. Earpieces in one ear are permitted, for example for speaking on a phone.
ConnecticutIt's legal!
DelawareIt's legal!
FloridaHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Hearing aids are exempt.
GeorgiaAnything that diminishes hearing or sight while driving is prohibited. Though earpieces used for communication purposes are permitted.
HawaiiIt's legal!
IdahoIt's legal!
IllinoisHeadphones or earbuds covering both ears are not permitted. The exceptions are motorcycle helmet audio systems, and one-ear headsets and earpieces.
IndianaIt's legal!
IowaIt's legal!
KansasIt's legal!
KentuckyIt's legal!
LouisianaHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Headphones built into motorcycle helmets exempt.
MaineIt's legal!
MarylandHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Hearing aids are exempt.
MassachusettsHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving, unless they are involved in the control of the vehicle itself.
MichiganIt's legal!
MinnesotaHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Hearing aids are exempt.
MississippiIt's legal!
MissouriIt's legal!
MontanaIt's legal!
NebraskaIt's legal!
NevadaIt's legal!
New HampshireIt's legal!
New JerseyIt's legal!
New MexicoIt's legal!
New YorkHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving.
North CarolinaIt's legal!
North DakotaIt's legal!
Ohio Headphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Headphones built into motorcycle helmets exempt, as are hearing aids.
OklahomaIt's legal!
Oregon It's legal, but there are some regional exceptions (so check your local laws).
PennsylvaniaHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Single-ear audio systems for cellular communication okay, as are hearing aids.
Rhode IslandHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving or operating a bicycle.
South CarolinaIt's legal!
South DakotaIt's legal!
TennesseeIt's legal!
TexasIt's legal!
UtahIt's legal!
VermontIt's legal!
VirginiaHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Headphones built into motorcycle helmets exempt, as are hearing aids.
WashingtonHeadphones or earbuds prohibited while driving. Hands-free wireless communication systems and motorcycle helmet audio systems are okay.
Washington, DCIt's legal!
West VirginiaIt's legal!
Wisconsin It's legal!
WyomingIt's legal!

And now, it’s time for a few important safety tips.  

(1) Ask yourself: can I use the stereo system instead?

Just because it isn’t illegal to wear headphones or earbuds while driving, doesn’t mean you should do it.  One huge disadvantage to wearing headphones or earbuds while driving is that it blocks out all external noise.  That makes it harder to detect external issues, not to mention sirens from police and medical emergency vehicles.

In almost every case, using your car speakers is easier, and safer.

(2) If you do wear headphones or earbuds while driving, don’t crank it.

Try to let some noise in.  It’s safer.  Again, just because there isn’t a rule against it, doesn’t mean you should do it.  It’s better not to be deaf while driving.

Safety first.

(3) If you are going to wear earbuds while driving, consider just listening in one ear.

Leave one ear free to hear external noises.

(4) Don’t get distracted by music apps and selections on your phone.

Picking tracks from Spotify while driving on the highway is a horrible way to go.  And tinkering with apps and your tunes while driving is just as bad as texting while driving.  Stay alive: pick a playlist before you leave, and let it ride.

(5) Riding a bike with earbuds is doubly dangerous.

The number one cause of fatalities with bicycles is vehicle collision.  And in almost all of those cases, the bicyclist loses, big time.  Do yourself a favor: ditch the earbuds for the ride.  You definitely need to hear what’s going on around you.

 

Stay safe out there.  Your friends at Digital Music News.

 

2 Responses

  1. Bob Smith

    doesn’t really make sense, other than for insurance companies refusing to pay for damages. hearing impaired people are allowed to drive, so it can’t be about hearing sirens.

    Reply
  2. Kristina Shugart

    hearing impaired have increased awareness and are alert to watch for flashing lights

    Reply

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