Driver Knowledge Tests

Is it legal to wear headphones when driving?

You are allowed to wear headphones while driving, but there are some exceptions and risks. Wearing earphones while you are driving increases your accident risk and if you are at fault then you risk being prosecuted.

Why is driving with headphones a bad idea?

Headphones mask the sounds around you. Driving is a complex task and you use your hearing frequently – emergency vehicles coming up behind you, other vehicles using their horns to warn of danger and the noise that other vehicles make when they are around you. You will be less aware of traffic conditions around you.

Hearing damage is also a risk. Cars create a lot of low-frequency vibration. It doesn’t seem loud, but it is. To prevent music from being masked by the noise of the car on the road, drivers usually drive with it at a higher volume. On a long journey, this can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, depending on the volume of the music and the length of the journey.

Rule 297(1) of the Road Rules 2014 says that you must not drive a vehicle unless you have proper control. Headphones could be considered a distraction. If you cause an accident because you couldn’t hear another road user’s horn or didn’t hear a police car approaching from behind, you might be held liable.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice