There are many reasons drivers may want to use headphones in the car. Perhaps they have noisy pets and children in the vehicle with them. Maybe the speakers in the car aren’t nearly as good as the headphones. Perhaps they want to listen to music that not everyone else approves of.
It seems straightforward to just throw on a pair of Bluetooth headphones and turn up the volume while driving. But is this legal in California?
You may not cover both ears
The short answer is that no, drivers cannot wear headphones. They also can’t use earplugs. These devices cannot be “covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears,” per California’s vehicle laws.
There are a handful of exceptions. You have likely seen firefighters wearing earphones, for instance, while driving a firetruck. This is simply to protect their ears from the sound of the siren. For the most part, though, this practice is illegal for the majority of drivers.
The reasoning is that headphones, earphones, earplugs and other such devices make it too difficult to really hear traffic around you. This could lead to a driver failing to get over for an emergency vehicle. These devices can also be very distracting. Someone who is lost in their own world, listening to their music, may cause an accident because of it. Music over the car’s speaker system is also distracting, but it doesn’t make it as hard to hear what’s happening around the vehicle.
Did a distracted driver hit you?
If a driver broke this law and hit your car, the fault in that accident is likely theirs. You need to know how to seek financial compensation.