Is It Legal To Wear Earbuds While Riding A Motorcycle?

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Saddling up your bike and cruising on the highway in your favorite city can be a fantastic experience. And when you have your favorite music on – then it gets even better.

But the only way to enjoy this music on a motorcycle is to have earbuds. And riding with headphones on can be somewhat dangerous.

Because it can be dangerous, some states make it illegal to wear earbuds while riding a motorcycle. Luckily, not all states in the US are like that.

Here, we’re going to help you find out the dangers of riding a motorcycle with earbuds on, which states make it (partially) illegal to do so, and how you can make it less dangerous at the same time.

So, are you interested in learning how to get the most out of your motorcycle with music on? Then read on!

Why Wearing Earbuds While Driving a Motorcycle Is Dangerous?

Everyone knows that most things feel better with some music on. From taking a bath to working out and even driving a motorcycle – it all feels better with your favorite music jamming.

But because it distracts your mind and makes you concentrate on other things apart from the road – then it can become something dangerous to do.

Here are a few reasons why listening to music or merely wearing earbuds can be unsafe:

Limits Hearing

The first and most important reason why having earbuds can be risky is that they limit your hearing.

You won’t hear the horn of other cars, the sirens from police or ambulances, nearby accidents, or other vehicles’ engines around the same way as if you had no earbuds on.

Even though earbuds can be ideal not only for listening to music but also to prevent wind and engine noise, keeping the ears safe from dirt and debris – they limit hearing too much.

Especially if you tend to ride in high-traffic areas, then this can be even more dangerous to do. 

If you don’t hear well – then you’re more likely to suffer an accident or cause one. 

Less Attention

Similarly to limiting the ability to hear everything around, earbuds may also lower your attention. 

If you’re using the earbuds for listening to music or an audiobook, then this becomes even truer. You may forget you’re riding a bike close to other vehicles which makes you less aware of your surroundings and becomes a hazard for other drivers.

If you aren’t well-aware of everything happening around you as a motorcycle rider – then you may not be able to react well in different situations.

Slows Reaction

Let’s say you’re not listening to music but only stopping wind and engine noise. In that case, you may think you’re all aware of everything happening, and there’s nothing to worry about.

Well, it doesn’t work that way. It is known that being able to hear and see things makes it easier to react to situations quickly when they happen. If you have your hearing limited or you just don’t listen to things well enough – then you will rely more on your sight. And that can trump your reaction time enormously.

If something happens around you, there’s a high chance you will react a lot slower with earbuds on than without them.

Could Be Used Against You

Finally, it is safe to say that even if you don’t use earbuds, you may still be part of an accident. As the person who causes or as the person who suffers the accident – earbuds can play a considerable disadvantage.

If you were riding with earbuds on (for listening to music or lowering noise down), insurance companies, judges, and lawyers could use that against you. You may go from being the person who suffers the accident to be the cause, and in some cases, increase your chances of going to jail.

In short, you could be declared a negligent rider – which could be awful for your case in an accident. 

States Where Earbud Motorcycle Riding Is Not Legal

Now that you’re aware of some of the dangers of wearing earbuds while riding motorcycles, then you must learn about the states that don’t allow it. 

Here, you will find that in some states earbuds are not totally illegal – but in others can even be illegal to use them on bicycles. 

  • Alaska

You can’t use headphones or earbuds while riding bikes in Alaska. But if you’re using them for navigation, then they’re safe. 

  • Arizona

You can use earbuds safely. However, anyone who works in transportation for children must not use earbuds. 

  • California

Wearing any type of electronic that covers your ear in California is illegal. And that includes both motor vehicles as well as bicycles. You can only use them if they work as a hearing aid. 

  • Colorado

You can’t use anything that covers both your ears and emits sounds at the same time. But you can use audio systems built into helmets or just one earbud for taking calls or using navigation systems. 

  • Florida

Nothing that emits sounds is legal while driving on Florida – both for bikes and cars. You can use hearing aids, though.

  • Georgia

It is only legal to use earpieces for communication. But anything that’s not for communication that covers your ears or eyes is totally illegal. 

  • Illinois

Similarly to Colorado, you can only use built-in helmet audio and single-ear headsets. Everything else is illegal.

  • Louisiana

You can only use headphones built into helmets. If you use anything else, then you can get fined. 

  • Maryland

There’s no way to use headphones or earbuds while driving. But you can use hearing aids without problems. 

  • Massachusetts

Unless the earbud or headphone has anything to do with the control of the vehicle, they’re totally prohibited. 

  • New York

You can’t use anything that covers your ear. There are no exemptions in New York.

  • Minnesota

Again, you can only use a hearing aid. Any type of electronic that covers your ears is illegal while driving.

  • Ohio

You may use built-in headphones in helmets and hearing aid. Anything else is prohibited. 

  • Oregon

You can ride safely with earbuds in some cities and regions, but others may prohibit the use of any kind of earbud or headphone. 

  • Pennsylvania

If you’re using hearing aids or only one earbud – then you’re safe. Otherwise, you can’t use any type of headphone or earpiece.

  • Rhode Island

You can’t use any type of hearing device while driving motor vehicles or bicycles. 

  • Virginia

It’s only possible to use hearing aids and built-in headphones in helmets. Any other type of hearing device is illegal. 

  • Washington

You can’t use headphones or earbuds. However, you may use wireless devices for communication as well as helmet audio systems. 

Now, you may be wondering – why are there so few states here? Well, these are the states in which wearing earbuds is illegal or partially so. All other states and regions are totally free of any law that prevents you from doing so. 

Advice for Wearing Earbuds While Riding a Motorcycle

Now that you’re familiar with the places where wearing earbuds is prohibited (or not), then you need to learn how to make it safer when doing so. Here are a few tips to follow:

Use a Speaker Instead

There’s no need to use headphones or earbuds when you can use a speaker instead. Some motorcycle speakers make it possible to listen to music while riding without any distortion. 

They may distort your surroundings a little still, but nothing like earbuds or headphones. So sure enough, they’re totally safe. 

Don’t Crank the Volume

If you’re using headphones in a place where it’s legal – then you should lower down the volume as much as you can.

This will make it easier for you to listen to other vehicles and be aware of everything around them. 

Use One Earbud Only

If you can, leave one of your ears uncovered. This will offer the chance to enjoy the music or whatever you’re listening to on one ear while leaving the other free so you can hear your surroundings. 

Automate the Music/Content

Whatever you’re listening to – make sure it is automated (make a playlist, set a timer, etc.)

It is not safe to reach back to your phone or device to change the song, book, article, or whatever you’re listening to. You may lose control of the motorcycle, or simply lose awareness for a few seconds – which can be disastrous. 

Be Aware of the Danger

Last but not least, make sure you know how dangerous it can be to ride a bike with things covering your ears. You could not only harm yourself or others, but you could also take your own lives and others at the same time.

This seems obvious, but you can avoid any danger by taking all the precautions mentioned above to the letter.

Conclusion

As you know already, wearing earbuds while riding a motorcycle can be legal in some places and illegal in others. But at the same time, you learned that it is always dangerous.

So it is up to you to decide whether wearing earbuds while on a bike is worth it or not. For us, it is better to prevent accidents completely instead of leaving it to chance. What do you think?

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