If you were to look into the windows of all of the cars on a busy intersection, chances are you would come across at least a few drivers with ear buds on. Some may be using a bluetooth device. Others may be listening to music on their phones. If you're wondering whether this is legal, or safe, your concern is legitimate. Using ear buds is an easy way to become distracted while driving.
Whether it is legal or illegal is actually a complex question that varies according to what state you live in. The simplest answer is to not use a cellphone while driving, regardless of state law. You and everyone on the road will be safer.
It is not illegal to use ear buds while driving in NJ - sometimes
Generally, ear buds are legal to use while driving in New Jersey, as they can qualify as a hands-free bluetooth device. Some states distinguish between ear buds and headphones when it comes to their laws. However, New Jersey is not one of those states, as it does not prohibit the use of headphones or ear buds on the road.
In Pennsylvania, the law prohibits the use of one or more headphones while driving, except hearing aids, and the use of a headset with a cell phone that only has an earbud in one ear.
Still a dangerous practice
Keep in mind, however, that using a hands-free cellphone can be an unsafe way to drive, especially on busy intersections. This is true whether it is legal or illegal.
In addition, if an investigation of a crash indicates that the use of ear buds caused the traffic collision, the driver may receive a traffic citation or a fine. For example, if you were listening to loud music and you couldn't hear a horn, a police officer may cite you.
It is also always possible the New Jersey Legislature could change the law in the near future to make the use of headphones illegal.
Dangers of distracted driving
Distracted driving is incredibly risky and a major contributing factor to many fatal traffic accidents. For example, a recent survey by Erie Insurance found that one-third of all drivers admitted to texting while driving. That is perhaps one reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 10 percent of all fatal teen accidents involve distracted driving.
While ear buds are legal to use while driving in New Jersey, it is recommended that drivers practice extreme caution. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident possibly caused by distracted driving, don't hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to learn about the potential for legal help with recovery.