Laws surrounding the use of headsets vary greatly from state to state. Some states forbid the use of any type of headphone while driving, even when a headphone is only in one ear. Other states allow the use of headphones, but only if one earbud or headphone is in use. The laws in New Jersey, however, allow for the use of any type of headphone because they are considered hands-free devices. Drivers can even legally use two headphones at once if they choose to do so. But just because something is legal, does not mean that people should do it. To learn more about how headphones can affect your driving, contact a professional attorney today.
Dangers of Driving with Headphones
Driving while using headphones, particularly when they are being used in both ears, is very dangerous. There are a lot of sounds drivers need to pay attention to on the road. Other vehicles pressing on their horns, sirens from emergency vehicles that are coming up behind the vehicle, crosswalk alarms, and the bells of railroad crossings are all important noises drivers need to be aware of. They are often the first indication that something is wrong, or that the driver needs to stop, slow down, or pull over.
In addition to not being able to hear surrounding sounds, headphones can be very distracting. Even when a person is not on their phone, listening to music or a podcast can be very distracting. They can cause a driver to become so engrossed in what they are listening to that they neglect to pay attention to what is going on right in front of them on the road. It is also important to note that while driving with headphones is not illegal in New Jersey, a driver can still be charged if they cause a crash and it is found that the use of headphones contributed to the cause of the crash.
It is also important for drivers to understand that while using headphones may be legal in New Jersey, distracted driving is still against the law in this state. And if caught texting while driving, or using a handheld electronic device, the fines can be very steep. They start at $200 and can be as much as $400 for a first offense, and they climb steadily for drivers committing a second and third offense.
Implications of the Law
While it may be legal to wear headphones while driving, even for the purposes of talking to someone, it is never okay to text while driving, or even dial the phone number of the person the driver wants to speak to. There is a good reason many states have outlawed driving with even just one headphone in. The practice is a dangerous one. Drivers should be able to hear everything that is going on around them, and using headphones interferes with that.