Wearing earbuds or headphones while driving could intensify your sensory deprivation and cognitive distraction level, potentially creating additional dangers on our roadways. Wearing earbuds could also increase your risk factor on the road if you are wearing them over or in both ears. Some models have noise cancellation acoustical technology, which may cause you to miss some important cues for driving safely.
Here’s a look at regional laws, according to the AAA Digest of Motor Laws:
Ohio: “Wearing earphones over, or earplugs in, both ears is not permitted while driving. Exempts speakers built into protective headgear or hearing aids.”
Kentucky: “No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.”
Indiana: “No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.”
Michigan: “No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.”
In the interest of traffic safety, motorists should maintain “driver concentration” at all times, however it is not only drivers who are at risk of death and injuries, warns AAA. It seems headphones or earbuds for iPods and MP3 players are everywhere on highways and sidewalks, and everyone is distracted and less aware of their surroundings these days. Other highway users wear earbuds or headphones while jogging, walking, skating, skateboarding or riding a bicycle or even a motorcycle. All road users should be mindful of traffic while listening to headphones and the dangers that accompany this distraction.
At the end of the day, it is not known how many deaths or injuries stem from drivers wearing headphones, earphones or earbuds. While most states allow the use of hands-free devices while driving, it is imperative that drivers do everything within their power to avoid actions and activities that hamper their ability to “hear” potential danger and to respond accordingly. If your mind is off the road, it is still a cognitive distraction, warns AAA.