Posted on October 18, 2022 at 7:00 PM by The Biker Lawyers
The facts about your rights to wear headphones while driving
8% of all fatal crashes and 14% of injury crashes in the United States in 2020 involved some form of distracted driving, according to Traffic Safety Facts provided by the US Department of Transportation.
According to another recent study, about 70% of Americans listen to music, podcasts, and other audio files while driving. And though it’s not illegal in Iowa (the law varies from state to state), many people believe that wearing headphones while driving is dangerous. But do these beliefs stand up to scrutiny?
According to Iowa laws about driving and headphones, some people are right; others are wrong.
Iowa laws about driving and headphones are fairly clear, but not simple.
If you're wondering, "Is it illegal to wear headphones in Iowa," the answer is not so simple. While the law does not specifically prohibit driving with headphones on, many people believe that wearing headphones can be dangerous and distracting. Anything that can cause a distraction while driving is generally a bad idea.
Most states have laws against driving while wearing any type of headgear that could obstruct your vision or hearing ability, but these laws do not apply specifically to earbuds (or other types of portable listening devices) used with smartphones, tablets, etc. as long as they do not interfere with safe operating conditions. Examples include hearing sirens, traffic signals, or horn-blowing sounds from nearby vehicles and at intersections where pedestrians might cross into traffic lanes without warning signs giving notice beforehand.
Some people believe that it is illegal to wear headphones in the car or on a motorcycle.
Some people believe that it is illegal to wear headphones in the car or on a motorcycle. However, this is not true. Again, in Iowa, it is not illegal to wear headphones while driving a vehicle. It is also not illegal to wear them while operating a motorcycle. The only thing you cannot do while wearing headphones while in your car or on your motorcycle is send or read text messages; this can result in serious injury if you are distracted by typing and looking at your phone as opposed to looking where you are going.
Some people believe that wearing headphones while driving increases their risk of being involved in an accident because they cannot hear what's happening around them as well as they would without their music playing through their earbuds or speakers. This may be true if the driver becomes distracted by what they're listening to or if they miss important roadway sounds as described above.
Even though it isn’t specifically prohibited, in most cases, wearing headphones while driving is a bad idea.
In most cases, wearing headphones while driving is a bad idea. While Iowa law doesn't specifically ban them, their use can be dangerous. This is especially true when riding a motorcycle where you need to be always acutely aware of all of your senses.
Hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of accidents and road rage since people are less aware of their surroundings.
Also, and this cannot be said enough, headphones can block out important sounds like sirens, your car's warning sounds, or other motorist's horns that could warn you that the light is about to change or other changes around you.
In the case of sirens, it is crucial that drivers can hear their emergency vehicles coming from behind them. If you are wearing headphones and not able to hear them, this could lead to a serious car accident where someone might get hurt or even killed.
Headphones also remove the ability for drivers to hear their children calling out "Dad" or "Mom," which could also lead to accidents if a child is in distress and needs help right away.
Also, the driver needs to hear if another driver or passenger calls out "watch out!" or something similar. This could be a warning that there is something dangerous up ahead. If you are wearing headphones, you may not be able to hear this warning at all and could drive off into an accident. Headphones should never be used when driving, especially if you are on the highway where there is more traffic and higher speeds.
The noise-canceling feature of many headphones also makes it difficult to hear sirens and other warning signals around you.
Modern technology is great. Features like noise-canceling built into most headphones are fantastic for creating a more immersive experience for the listener. It's not great if the listener is driving a vehicle. Even if you are listening to an audiobook or music, you need to still keep your ears open for changing sounds of the road so that you can react quickly if necessary.
Most jurisdictions have laws prohibiting using headsets near railroad tracks.
Most jurisdictions, including the state of Iowa, have laws prohibiting using headsets near railroad tracks. Typically, these laws prohibit driving with a headset unless you're able to hear any important sounds such as approaching trains or emergency vehicle sirens.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the use of headsets by drivers and pedestrians to reduce interference between the train and its track signals. The FCC has a website where you can check to see if your area has restrictions on using headsets near railroad tracks.
While it is true that wearing headphones while driving may not be specifically prohibited, it is still a bad idea. The noise-canceling feature of many headphones makes it difficult to hear sirens and other warning signals around you. They can also be dangerous if you are attempting to communicate with children in the back seat. Most jurisdictions have laws prohibiting using headsets near railroad tracks because they pose an obvious risk of injury or death when the train horn sounds off unexpectedly.
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