Is it legal to wear headphones while driving in PA?

With technology at our fingertips every minute of every day, you may wonder, “Is it legal to wear headphones while driving in PA?” After all, we live in an age of distraction. It is all around us. While writing this article, for instance, I was distracted by a text message, a phone call, and a neighbor.  Technology is the main source of distraction today. This is a grave matter, however, when it comes to driving. Hooked on texting and tweeting, today’s American can cause quite a lot of trouble on the road, as we saw in our last post on texting while driving.  We know it is illegal to text and drive. But is it legal to wear headphones while driving in PA?

Today, wearing headphones is commonplace. While this entertaining or educational pastime may be enjoyable, or increase the efficiency of your day, it is not to be engaged in behind the wheel here in Pennsylvania. Wearing headphones is illegal while driving in PA. Nor does it matter that you may not be listening to anything at the time.

There are exceptions, however. If the headset only provides sound through one ear, it is legal. For example, the use of a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear – such as a blue tooth device—and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear is legal. And, since it serves the purpose of safety, the use of communication equipment by the driver of an emergency vehicle or by motorcycle operators complying with the statute relating to protective equipment for motorcycle riders is legal as well. The use of hearing aids or other devices for improving the hearing of the driver are legal as well.

What about using a GPS? You might think that it is included under the texting ban. It is not. The texting ban does not include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle, or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus. Therefore, a GPS that is integrated into a vehicle is legal, as long as you are not listening to it through headphones.



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