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Why You Should Not Drive With Headphones

There is a long list of things you should not do while driving. Anything that requires you to take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your attention from the task at hand should be avoided. Now, you may think driving with headphones is the same as listening to music through your car speakers and is not a distraction, but it is very dangerous and is illegal in Canada.

There are three types of distractions while on the road:

  • Visual: any distraction that takes your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: any distraction that takes your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive: any distraction that occupies your mind.

Distracted driving generally means that 1 or more of the 3 types of distractions are being compromised. Wearing headphones while driving compromises all 3.

Headphones connected to your cell phone give drivers more incentive to pick up and unlock their phone to change the song, they may read notifications, return a text, etc. This compromises the visual and manual fields of driving.

The biggest issue with headphones is the cognitive compromise it entails. Driving with headphones further limits one’s ability to hear, causing danger to themselves and other motorists. On the road it is important to hear:

  • Car horns
  • Emergency Vehicle Sirens
  • Crosswalk Alarms
  • Railroad Crossing Alarms

Additionally, driving with headphones significantly decreases your situational awareness and spatial recognition. A study done by Ford found that limiting one’s hearing while driving decreased their reaction time by a full 4 seconds – the difference between life and death on the road.

Listening to your car’s speaker system is much safer for you, and those around you. If the speakers are connected to your phone, create a playlist to avoid picking up your phone while driving, and keep the music at a reasonable level to hear emergency vehicle sirens, and warning honks from other motorists.

CLG Injury Law has over 35 years’ experience representing Atlantic Canadians who have suffered injuries following a motor vehicle accident. For more articles and safety tips, go to or subscribe to our newsletter.

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