Is Driving With Headphones Legal?

It depends. Some states have no legislation prohibiting headphone use, while others have relatively strict guidelines. To ensure you stay within the law, we recommend checking with your state DMV.

Driving laws are regulated by your state representatives and your governor, so laws vary from state to state. However, even if driving with headphones is legal in your area, it should be mentioned that it is not considered safe.

man driving with headphones
Stay Safe! Sign up for SafeWise's weekly newsletter.

Get updates on the latest safety news, product releases, and deals.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Why Is driving with headphones risky?

Driving with headphones is risky for several reasons.

  1. You can’t hear what’s going on around you: When you have over-the-ear headphones or in-ear monitors on, it’s impossible to hear anything other than what you are listening to through the earpieces. Imagine if you couldn’t hear someone honking at you, the sound of children playing, or the oncoming train. Hearing orients us, helps us understand what is going on around us, and helps us focus. When you take hearing out of the driving equation, you increase the chances of driver error.
  2. It requires you to multitask: When you are driving and listening to something on your headphones, you are multitasking. In other words, your brain is paying attention to both driving and listening to your music or program. When you are multitasking instead of focusing 100% on driving, it increases the risk of getting into an accident.
  3. It’s distracting: Have you ever been so into a talk radio program or a musical set while driving that you don’t even remember how you got from point A to point B? While this is a sign of a great audio program, it’s not a great sign of where your attention was while you were driving. Driving with headphones means you are giving most of your thought to what you are listening to rather than how you are driving. This can end in a disaster.

Using headphones while driving is legal in some states and illegal in others, but one thing is for certain—it’s not safe anywhere. Decrease your chances of getting into an accident by committing to not drive with headphones, keeping your eyes and ears on the road, and making safer driving choices in general.

For more information about driving safely, check out our Car Safety Guide.


Compare the top car safety products

Product
Price
Specs
Stand-out feature
Learn more
Best car alarm
DroneMobile product imageDroneMobile X-1
Unlimited rangeImpact sensor

Remote start

Best dash cam
Rexing V1P
4K Full HD

170° front and rear

Tolerates -20°F to 176°F
Best vehicle tracker
Vyncs Vehicle GPS TrackerVyncs
OBD port plug-inMaintenance reminders
Best portable car jack
Torin Car JackTorin Big Red
Lifts up to 15 in. and 3,000 lbs.Lightweight

Affordable

Best navigation system
Garmin-drivesmart-61Garmin DriveSmart 61
6.95 in. touchscreenVoice control
Best steering wheel lock
Disklok
Hardened steel

3 different sizes

Tamperproof lock

*Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. SafeWise uses paid Amazon links.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help everyone find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. In her free time, she volunteers at the local botanical garden and writers for the community newspaper.

Recent Articles

security system being installed on wall
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2022
DIY install home security systems are cost-efficient, effective, and easy to install. See which DIY...
Large craftsman style house at twilight with lights on
Best Home Security Systems of 2022
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,...
Senior woman hugging dog
The Best Medical Alert Systems of 2022
See which medical alert system is the best to keep you and your loved one...
couple sitting on floor with moving boxes and a dog
2022 Best Home Security Systems for Renters
These renter-friendly home security systems keep your house or apartment safe and require less commitment...