Young woman wearing headphones while driving. Can you drive with headphones?

Driving while listening to the radio is standard for most drivers, but some drivers use earbuds, headphones, or headsets to listen to audio devices or make phone calls in the car.

Earbuds, headphones, and headsets can obstruct a driver’s hearing and increase the risk of an accident. Some states have made it illegal to drive with headphones, but others still allow it.

Where Is it Illegal To Drive With Headphones?

As of July 2021, the majority of states allow people to drive while wearing headphones, headsets, and earbuds.

Seventeen states prohibit or restrict driving with headphones. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. In Illinois, for example, it is illegal to wear headphones or earbuds while driving, but Bluetooth and other hands-free listening devices are permitted if they only obstruct one ear.

All other states, including Iowa and Wisconsin, do not prohibit driving with headphones.

However, even though driving with headphones is legal in most states, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe.

Driving With Headphones Can Be Dangerous

Earbuds and Bluetooth devices can obstruct a driver’s hearing and interfere with their ability to perceive danger and prevent car accidents. While these hands-free devices allow drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road, motorists may still be distracted by what they are hearing in both ears and may not:

  • Hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle approaching.
  • Hear a crash happening near them.
  • Hear the warning horns of other vehicles.
  • Be able to concentrate on the road.

Bicyclists and pedestrians should also think twice before traveling with earbuds or headphones that prevent them from hearing the environment around them. 

What to Do If You’re Hurt in a Crash With a Driver Who Was Wearing Headphones

The other driver’s use of headphones while driving could be relevant to your car accident recovery. Accordingly, you should make a note of it at the accident scene and mention it to your experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Your accident attorney can investigate the cause of your crash and determine if the driver wearing the earbuds or headset was distracted at the time of the crash. Then, your lawyer can help you make a fair recovery for your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, pain, suffering, and other accident damages.

Please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers if you’ve been involved in a crash with a driver who was wearing a headset in Wisconsin, Iowa, or Illinois. We would be happy to meet with you at any of our 11 Midwest law offices, in your home or hospital room, or by phone or video conference. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation, discuss your legal rights, and learn about our Win or It’s Free Guarantee.


Jill Erin Wellskopf
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Director of Marketing, Hupy and Abraham