Drivers often complain about pedestrians plugged into their music while crossing the road. It is a valid concern, as anyone absorbed by their playlist cannot give their full attention to where they walk. Yet what about wearing headphones while driving?
New York introduced a law in 2018, making it illegal to wear two headphones while driving, riding a motorcycle or bicycle. The law did not include pedestrians, but it is just as vital that they do not do it either.
Headphones block out things you need to hear
Next time you are riding as a passenger in a car, try covering your ears or putting in two headphones to see what you miss noticing. For example:
- A crosswalk sounding to remind you someone is crossing
- A cyclist ringing their bell to warn you not to turn across them
- The siren of a fire engine or ambulance that needs to overtake fast
- The roar of a motorcycle that has crept up on you from nowhere and is about to pass
- The reversing signal of a truck about to pull out in front of you
Most of these things you should see with your eyes. Yet, it is easy to miss them with so much going on, and your ears can provide valuable extra information.
Music can still distract you even if you do not have headphones in
While it is cheering to see a driver with their windows up singing their heart out, safe in the knowledge that no one can hear them, it is not ideal. Music allows people to lose themselves in the moment. Yet drivers need to be present.
If a driver injures you while walking with headphones, they may claim you contributed to your injuries. Yet, as the person in charge of a moving vehicle, they need to take extra care. Perhaps if they were not focused on their music, they would have noticed you and stopped in time.