You might think that wearing headphones and listening to your favorite tunes is a great way to calming your nerves and making your commute less hectic. But AAA warns that driving with earphones or AirPods is a dangerous type of distraction.
AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican says, “Wearing earbuds or headphones, while driving could intensify your sensory deprivation and cognitive distraction level, potentially creating additional dangers on our roadways.”
Aside from the music in your ears being distracting, there are other reasons why wearing these devices is dangerous. Wearing headphones, earbuds or AirPods can:
· Cause you to not hear alarms, horns or railroad signals
· Decrease your attention to your surroundings
· Create distractions as you change songs or stations
Researchers from the University of Maryland call these distractions “inattentional blindness.” The level of distraction is so great that drivers may be inattentive to the point of being blind to what is happening around them.
Driving with Headphones in California
Not only is wearing headphones dangerous, but it is also illegal in many states. In California, Vehicle Code 27400 states that anyone operating a motor vehicle or bicycle cannot wear “a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears.”
Drivers who violate these rules are subject to penalties including:
· A fine of up to $197.00
· One point against his or her DMV driving record
· A ticket from local law enforcement
· A misdemeanor charge of “failure to appear” if the ticket is ignored
The exceptions to this rule are individuals who are hearing impaired, law enforcement or personal hearing protectors used by certain drivers.
What Drivers Should Do to Stay Safe
Based on these laws and penalties, it seems that the best option for drivers is to avoid driving with headphones, earbuds or AirPods in at all. If you want to listen to music, use the radio and the car’s speakers. Keep the volume at a reasonable level so you can hear what is going on around you and your vehicle.