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Illegal to Drive in New York Using More Than One Headphone

Driving down the road with tunes from your iPod blasting through your car stereo is completely legal. But driving down the road with tunes from your iPod blasting through both of your earbuds is not.

That’s right — in the state of New York it is illegal to use both earbuds or headphones while driving. Under article 375(24)-a of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, individuals are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle — including an automobile, motorcycle or even a bicycle — while wearing more than one earphone attached to an audio device. GPS systems are excluded from this law.

Studies have shown that drivers listening to tunes through both earphones are more distracted than one enjoying their music through a car stereo system. In fact, experts believe that listening to music through headphones while driving is as much of a distraction as texting while driving. With two earphones plugged in, drivers are unable to hear emergency vehicles and other vehicle warnings.

As a result, the law prohibits use of both headphones while driving. Violations of this law can result in New York traffic citations with fines over $100.

The law, however, does allow for drivers and bicyclists to continue using one earbud to listen to music on iPods, iPhones, smartphones and other MP3 devices, while driving or riding their bicycles. Additionally, Bluetooth headsets – most often known for taking hands-free phone calls – are allowed under the law. But the key is that drivers must still have at least one ear free and attuned to the noises of the road so that they cannot only see traffic conditions, but also hear them.

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