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Headset while drivingAs a general rule, it is a violation of California law for a driver to cover both ears with a headset or earplugs. This includes earplugs and earbuds inserted into the ear canal. Although it is illegal to drive with both ears covered, driving with only one ear covered at a time is acceptable. This is the general rule, but there are some exceptions. Those exceptions include the following:

  • Drivers who operate an emergency vehicle;
  • Drivers operating construction equipment;
  • Drivers operating highway maintenance equipment;
  • Trash collectors may wear a headset or earplugs for safety;
  • Drivers wear earplugs to protect their ears from high levels of noise, so long as those earplugs allow them to hear emergency sirens and horns from other vehicles; and
  • Drivers operating a vehicle with hearing aids.

In other words, if the earbuds or headset is not an essential part of your job, you are likely not allowed to wear them in both ears while driving. Note also that police officers, ambulance drivers, fire truck drivers, and construction workers can only have both ears covered while driving while they are on the job. They cannot wear earbuds in both ears on their commute home. Additionally, trash collectors can only wear headsets or earplugs if they are used for safety. If the earplugs are not required to protect their ears from the noise of heavy machinery, trash collectors are not allowed to wear them on the job.

Why Are Most People In California Not Allowed To Drive With Both Ears Covered?

The reasoning behind this law is a matter of safety. Drivers in California cannot cover both ears due to being unable to hear emergency indicators, such as emergency sirens or car horns of drivers attempting to warn others. The law specifically explains this reasoning when it explains that it is acceptable to wear certain earplugs that only block out the loudest sounds that may damage a person’s hearing.

Can I Wear One Earbud While Driving In California?

Yes. It is acceptable in California to drive with one earbud or one side of a pair of earphones over your ear, so long as one ear is free and able to hear outside sounds, such as emergency vehicle sirens and honks from other cars.

Can I Ride A Bike In California With Both Ears Covered?

No. The same rules apply to riding a bike as to driving a car in California. Riding a bike in California with both ears covered by a headset or earplugs is not legal. A few exceptions exist. If the earplugs or earbuds are designed to protect your ears from high noise levels while allowing you to hear emergency sirens and horns from other vehicles, then covering both ears may be legal. Hearing aids are also allowed for bikers. But, again, the bottom line is safety—specifically, the ability for a biker to hear sirens, honks, or other emergency indicators.

Can I Ride A Bike In California With One Earbud?

Yes. Similar to the above response, the law applies to bikers and drivers. You may ride a bike with one earbud or headphones covering only one ear so long as you can hear sirens and honks while you are doing so.

Have additional questions about car accidents? The personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates are here for you. To schedule your initial case consultation, call 888-848-5084 or visit our website today.

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