Using Headphones While Driving in Long Island

“Can I use headphones while driving?” is a common question. New York law specifically prohibits the use of a cell phone for any reason while driving. This includes making phone calls, texting, emailing, or taking pictures. The one exception is for a person to make a phone call while using a hands-free device. These hands-free devices must be integrated into the car’s speaker system and not require that the user hold the phone in their hands.

In fact, if a person is observed with a cell phone in their hands, or placed to the side of their head, they can be assumed to be using it by any police officer. One area that may cause potential confusion is whether a person may use headphones with an integrated speaker to make a phone call. Talk to a professional Long Island car accident lawyer for more information on using headphones in the car.

New York Law

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 375 (24) – a specifically states that no person can wear headphones in both ears while operating any kind of vehicle. The rationale behind this law is that people with both ears covered by headphones are less aware of their surroundings. It may seem somewhat foolish that a person may play their car stereo as loud as they please without penalty, it has been shown that the use of headphones results in distracted driving.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for car accidents in the State of New York and the passage of this law is one of many measures taken in an attempt to decrease these accidents. In addition, it is New York law that a driver gives way to any emergency vehicle and not being able to hear a siren make a person more likely to violate this statute.

There is a pair of interesting points to keep in mind concerning this law. The first is that this law applies not just to drivers of cars, but to any person operating any vehicle. This includes motorcyclists and bicycle riders. Even though these people may be wearing full helmets for protection, their ears must still be clear. Additionally, the law only prohibits a person from wearing headphones in both ears.


As strange as it sounds, a person using headphones to listen to music in only their right or left ear is not violating the law. However, it is not recommended to test this notion as police may not believe people who claim to only be using the headphones in one ear. In short, New York is extremely strict when it comes to using cell phones while driving. Without a car-integrated hands-free device, their use is strictly forbidden. This includes using headphones for any purpose.

While the law does allow for the use of headphones as long as one ear remains open, it is inadvisable to do so. The use of headphones distracts drivers and may make them unable to hear the sounds of the road. For everyone’s sake, leave the headphones at home.

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