Whether you're catching up on your favorite podcast or cranking up some new music to get through a frustrating commute, most people are listening to something when they drive. And for many of us, it's not the radio – it's through our phones.
But is it legal to drive with ear buds or headphones in?
Well, It Depends
Not every state has a law regarding headphone use in the car. In general, the ones that do prohibit wearing headphones or ear buds in both ears while driving. In some states, it is legal to have one ear bud or a one-sided headset for hands-free calls.
In California, for example, it is illegal to wear headphones in both ears while driving a car or riding a bicycle, unless they are designed to aid hearing or diminish dangerous noise levels. Florida has banned headphones altogether, unless they are being used to make a hands-free call (and then you can only use them in one ear).
Check for headset laws in your state to learn more.
'Can' Doesn't Always Mean 'Should'
Even if there's no law against wearing ear buds while driving in your state, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea. Blocking external noise while you're driving can be incredibly dangerous – you might not hear the sirens of police or emergency vehicles, train whistles, other drivers' horns, or problems with your vehicle. Plus, switching tracks or looking for a new episode is just as hazardous as texting, and in states with hands-free laws it can land you in legal trouble.
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