Motorcycle Earbud Use and the Law

Motorcycle Earbud Use and the Law

Cruising the highway listening to your favorite tunes…there’s nothing quite like it. North Carolina and South Carolina happen to be two of the states that allow unrestricted use of headphones and earbuds for motorcyclists. It’s not against the law to wear earbuds while riding but there are safety issues to consider. Some bikers feel it’s just as safe or safer to wear earbuds and headphones because it cuts down on wind noise and ear fatigue for those who are on a long ride or traveling at high speed on the open highway. On the other hand, police and safety organizations recommend against motorcycle earbud use. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to use earphones or not.

Volume Level

Many bikers use in-helmet Bluetooth systems to listen to music. Some riders choose to ride and listen to music at a high volume. Others use minimal volumes so they can also hear what is happening around them more easily. Still other riders just use the earbuds like earplugs to lessen wind and engine noise. Finding an appropriate volume is an important safety factor. Many bikers turn off their audio completely when in congested traffic so they can pay attention more easily to sudden moves without being distracted while others keep their volumes at a level where they can still hear horns and sirens in traffic. If you’re using headphones in a place where it’s legal – then you should lower down the volume as much as you can. This will make it easier for you to listen to other vehicles and be aware of everything around them.

Be More Aware

Bikers rely on their eyes more than their ears when riding of course, but some bikers are very attuned to audio cues while riding. Anytime a biker uses earbuds on the road they should pay closer attention to their surroundings and make sure to always comply with all traffic laws.

Use One Earbud Only

If you can, leave one of your ears uncovered. This will offer the chance to enjoy the music or whatever you’re listening to on one ear while leaving the other free so you can hear your surroundings. 

Automate the Music/Content

Whatever you’re listening to – make sure it is automated (make a playlist, set a timer, etc.) It is not safe to reach back to your phone or device to change the song or whatever you’re listening to. You may lose control of the motorcycle, or simply lose awareness for a few seconds – which can be disastrous. 

Could be Used Against You

If there is an accident involving a motorcycle, the fact that a rider was wearing earphones or listening to loud music during the accident will probably be included in the case evidence and could be a reason for insurance companies to argue contributory negligence against the motorcyclist. One of the primary safety concerns when using earbuds and riding is reaction time if a motorist in front makes a quick brake or other movement at a high rate of speed.

Although they make a long ride more enjoyable, wearing earbuds may diminish a rider’s ability to respond properly to highway changes. As you might have figured, police and driver safety organizations advise against wearing any earphone device because it could compromise the rider’s awareness of surrounding traffic conditions. In the end, using earphones while riding is a personal preference. Be sure to choose whether to wear headphones or not wisely and experiment with the volume levels that are right for you.

The Karney Law Firm has been representing injured bikers since 1975. With a clear understanding of the obstacles motorcyclists face both on the road and in the courtroom, our attorneys fight for motorcycle accident victims. Protecting bikers throughout the Carolinas with offices in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh. From accident through recovery, we’ve got your back. Contact us for your free consultation 877-376-7982.

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