Throughout the United States, there are many different regulations regarding wearing headphones while driving. Some states allow for strictly headphones that do not cover the head, others, only one side of the headphones in one ear, and in some others, it is completely illegal.
Indiana, however, is not included in any of these given examples. Drivers can wear any kind of headphones or earbuds in Indiana they choose without facing penalties. There are many reasons drivers may want to wear headphones or earbuds while driving, whether for music, phone calls, or even canceling out noise.
But driving while wearing headphones is not necessarily safe practice as distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents and there is a good reason why drivers should refrain from doing so.
Drivers need to be fully aware of everything going on around them while on the road. This involves not only seeing what is happening, but hearing everything as well.
Drivers must be able to hear the sirens of an ambulance, a police car, or a fire truck. Ambient sounds can tell drivers how fast they are going when driving in conditions such as fog, or alert them to quickly approaching vehicles. If another vehicle is trying to warn the driver by honking their horn, the driver needs to be able to hear it.
Wearing headphones while driving can contribute to distracted driving by taking the driver’s attention away from the road and important surrounding noises.
It is Legal, But Is It Responsible?
Even though wearing headphones is legal in Indiana, negligence laws still apply in the event of a car accident.
In most circumstances, Indiana follows a modified comparative fault standard. This means, an accident victim is generally eligible to receive compensation for damages only if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If the victim in an accident was wearing headphones at the time the car crash occurred, the defendant or their insurance company could use that fact against the plaintiff seeking compensation for damages.
Indiana is just one of many states that have not yet imposed laws banning the use of headphones while driving, but that does not mean it is safe or responsible to do so.
Indiana drivers should refrain from wearing headphones while driving. Protect yourself and others on the road by paying attention and remaining alert to your surroundings. Drive smart, and take the headphones off.