Although driving with headphones can be dangerous, it is not against the law in Missouri. If the headphones distract a driver from the driving task or otherwise impair the ability to drive safely, however, they can get the driver into trouble. Learn what the law says so that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities as a driver in Missouri.
What Does Missouri Law Say?
There is no law in Missouri against driving with headphones. Although the Missouri Highway Patrol discourages it, it is not illegal. Lawfully, a driver can operate a motor vehicle with headphones in one or both ears and while listening to music, a podcast or something else. It is also legal to listen to headphones while riding a bicycle in Missouri.
Note, however, that there are laws against distracted driving. It is illegal to use your phone while driving in Missouri except in an emergency. It is against the law to use a handheld phone in any capacity, including making phone calls, reading emails, sending text messages, switching a song or watching videos. Missouri also has a law banning careless and imprudent driving. If listening to something with headphones is distracting enough to make someone drive carelessly, the driver is breaking the law.
What Are the Dangers of Driving With Headphones?
Driving with headphones puts you at risk of driver distraction. Headphones can block out the sounds of the street and traffic around you, putting you at risk of failing to hear sounds such as car horns or sirens. Missing these important sounds can lead to a car accident. Using headphones or earbuds to listen to something while driving can also cause sensory deprivation, increasing your level of cognitive distraction while driving. This can lead to mistakes behind the wheel such as failing to notice a red light or speeding.
For safety reasons, you should not drive with headphones, even if it is legal in your state. Earbuds, especially when worn in both ears, can be distracting enough to cause a car accident. You may be unable to dedicate your full attention to the road or miss important traffic noises around you. Unless you need headphones for a hearing impairment or to work as emergency personnel, drive without them for safety reasons.
What if You Cause a Car Accident While Driving With Headphones?
As a driver, you have a responsibility to safely operate your motor vehicle in accordance with all relevant state laws. This includes Missouri’s distracted driving and reckless driving laws. Driving with headphones might not be against the law, but this won’t protect you from absorbing liability if you cause a car accident while listening to something. An insurance company could blame you for the crash if the headphones were creating a distraction or caused you to make a dangerous mistake, such as failing to notice a pedestrian.
Missouri is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning the driver that causes the collision will have to pay for victims’ losses. If you cause a car accident while listening to headphones and are found to be at fault for the crash, your liability car insurance will pay for the other driver’s medical costs and property repairs.
In Missouri, you are required to carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance and $10,000 in property damage insurance. Causing a car accident could lead to your insurance company hiking up your premium or dropping you as a client.
Injured in a Crash With Another Driver? Contact an Attorney
If you are injured in a car accident involving a driver who was listening to headphones at the time of the collision, you may be able to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company on the basis of distracted or careless driving.
Contact a car accident lawyer in Kansas City to discuss your legal options before signing anything from an insurance company. A lawyer can investigate the car accident and search for signs of fault, such as the other driver being distracted by headphones or earbuds. Then, your lawyer can negotiate for maximum financial compensation for your losses.