While texting might be the first thing you think of when you hear about distracted driving, there are numerous ways people can be occupied behind the wheel. Thankfully, Pennsylvania has a law that takes away one of those distractions.
The state prohibits the use of headphones or earphones while driving. Drivers cannot cover both ears while operating a vehicle as it prevents them from hearing their surroundings. It is important to understand why this law is in place:
You need to hear the other vehicles.
Whether it’s the screeching brakes of the car near you or hearing your blinker click, sound helps you understand the conditions of your car and your surroundings. Without sound, you will not be able to hear an ambulance rushing down your lane or the police signaling to pull you to the side.
You cannot rely on sight alone. Studies show that music can influence your mood and performance while driving. Your attention is split between your eyes on the road, maneuvering your car properly and listening to the music.
When your focus is so divided, your driving becomes impaired. You will not notice people or obstacles as well or as quickly as you would normally. You could turn too early or too late. You could find that driving in a straight line is more difficult than before. This increases significantly if you put headphones over your ears and mute your surroundings.
Are there exceptions?
The law does have exceptions to the rule. Those who require hearing aids can have hearing buds since they need it to hear traffic properly. In addition, you can plug in a headset to your cell phone as long as it is only covering one ear. At least one ear must be open for you to hear the vehicles around you.
The point of this law is not to ban music or radio channels, but to prevent you from making it a large priority while driving. Sight is not the only sense you need for driving. If you distract your ears, you also distract your eyes and risk causing serious accidents for yourself and other vehicles.