No, it is not illegal to wear headphones while driving in Alabama.
But is it a good idea to wear headphones while driving in Alabama?
Is It Illegal To Drive With Headphones In Alabama? (Discussion)
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Headphones have been popular for decades, having undergone several transformations over the years in order to keep up with technological advancements (i.e., wireless bluetooth earbuds) and to become more effective at delivering sound.
It is common for users to wear headphones while doing all tasks, from commuting to mowing the lawn.
Inadvertantly, wearing headphones can result in injuries or damage as distracted wearers fail to hear noises that would have otherwise alerted them to take action.
The Risks of Driving While Wearing Headphones
Using headphones can be a leisure activity that allows you to unwind and decompress, as discussed above. Some folks rarely even take off their headphones under any circumstances, even falling asleep to the sounds emitted from the tiny speakers. But there is a time and a place for using them.
Have you ever been honked at while driving? Was it loud or soft? And what were the circumstances behind it?
Honking your horn can be a warning sign to keep you out of imminent danger. As I have stated previously, headphones can be used to listen to a multitude of sounds. But for the following examples, we will use music.
Imagine driving down the same roads you always do, playing music on your headphones and drifting into an alternate universe.
You pull into a gas station to fill your tank. As you are turning around and backing up to the pump, another car comes up behind you (having not noticed you right away) and tries to pull in behind you. Realizing their mistake, they honk the horn.
But you’re wearing headphones that are playing loud music and therefore cannot hear the honking.
Not knowing that someone is behind you, you accelerate in reverse, causing you to hit the vehicle. Even a crash at such a low speed can cause damage to your vehicle as well as injuries to your body, including but not limited to whiplash and bone fractures.
This eventually leads to hospital bills and a severe hike in monthly car insurance payments. And to think, it could have all been prevented if you had just used the radio instead and stayed focused on the task at hand.
Let’s use another example. You are driving and an ambulance is fast approaching. Emergency sirens start to blare. Because headphones can be turned up to the top volume, this can completely obstruct your hearing and therefore eliminate any outside sounds that you may need to hear.
You may be so transfixed by the music that you don’t see the flashing lights over your shoulder. Even taking a few seconds longer than you would otherwise to move out of the way for the emergency vehicle to get through could cause the patient in the ambulance to arrive at the hospital later than needed, adversely affecting their overall care.
Simply put, using headphones while driving is a form of distracted driving that is not readily thought of as such.
So, because the activity falls under the distracted driving umbrella, why is it not illegal when headphones could hinder you from hearing certain (important) sounds while on the road?
It is not only that listening to headphones while driving is not illegal; the fact is, there are no laws against wearing them while driving in specific states.
We found 32 states that do not have any laws in place against this act. Just to name a few: Delaware, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, and Alabama.
However, keep in mind that just because something may not be considered illegal does not mean that it is automatically safe or the right thing to do.
If you live in Alabama or any other state that has not enacted a law against driving while listening to headphones, make a judgment call. Is it worth it to negatively impact your hearing while driving?
Probably not. If the stereo is no longer working, there are inexpensive bluetooth speakers that can programmed to connect to the phone and the driver can then play music from YouTube, Spotify, and a plethora of other apps.