A person cannot wear headphones when driving a motor vehicleCan a person wear headphones while driving? On my commute to work each day, I have seen this on several occasions.
By: Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol, Alexandria Echo Press
Question: Can a person wear headphones while driving? On my commute to work each day, I have seen this on several occasions.
Answer: Minnesota State Statute says: “169.471 Subd. 2. Use of headphones in vehicle.
(a) No person, while operating a motor vehicle, shall wear headphones or earphones that are used in both ears simultaneously for purposes of receiving or listening to broadcasts or reproductions from radios, tape decks, or other sound-producing or transmitting devices.
(b) Paragraph (a) does not prohibit:
(1) the use of a hearing aid device by a person who needs the device;
(2) the use of a communication headset by a firefighter while operating a fire department emergency vehicle in response to an emergency; or
(3) the use of a communication headset by an emergency medical services person while operating an ambulance subject to section 144E.101
So the answer is no, a person cannot wear headphones while driving. It is very important for the driver to be aware and alert to all that is going on around themwhile driving. Listening to music with headphones while driving can block out an emergency vehicle’s siren while trying to respond and provide life saving measures for the public.
Emergency vehicles are equipped with lights and sirens to help make them as noticeable as possible when needed.
A lack of paying attention and unable to hear that siren could cost the needed time to save a life.
A hands free device (i.e., blue tooth) would be legal because it is only used in one ear.
I’d also like to bring attention with the warmer weather slowly arriving that bicyclists and pedestrians need to take note.
If you are out on a bike ride or out for a run, yes, music is nice to help the pace; yes, you can legally wear the headphones, but please think about your safety on what you are not hearing as you are navigating in or near motorized traffic.
The 2010 Minnesota statistics are still not completely in, but there was a jump in pedestrian deaths from 25 in 2008 to 41 in 2009, the highest total since 2005 (44).
Again, these are preventable if we use good common sense and maximize our personal safety and pay attention. Please take care of yourself on your daily journeys to and from.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes MN 56501-2205. Or reach me at email@example.com.