Distracted driving is a dangerous practice that is all too familiar to a lot of people. From texting, to eating, to fiddling with navigation devices, many people become distracted every single time they get behind the wheel. But did you know that wearing headphones while driving is a form of distracted driving, and some states even outlaw this habit? Driving while wearing headphones can cause a driver to be less aware of their surroundings and may even cause them to not hear certain things, like a police officer using their siren or a car honking at them.
In this blog, we’ll discuss Illinois driving laws, common negligent driving injuries, and the dangers of wearing headphones while driving. We’ll also take you through what damages a distracted driving car accident victim could recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
If you or a loved one have experienced harm as a result of someone driving with headphones, Chicago personal injury lawyers at Curcio Law Offices can help you recover compensation for your damages. Call us at (312) 321-1111 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is the practice of operating a motor vehicle while distracted, whether that be by an electronic device, passenger, or activity other than driving such as eating or putting on makeup. This kind of dangerous driving can impair someone’s ability to drive safely. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association, distracted drivers caused 3,142 car crash fatalities across the U.S in 2021.
While not all drivers have been in wrecks or received citations for driving while distracted, most drivers have engaged in distracted driving at some point in their driving career. In fact, Illinois police officers issued 10,845 citations for distracted driving in 2021.
While it’s perfectly legal to drive while listening to the car radio, listening to music through headphones while driving is dangerous and, in some states, illegal to do. In states with driving laws surrounding headphone usage, there are some exceptions, like using headphones for hands-free phone calls or navigational purposes. Still, if someone chooses to wear headphones while driving, they are putting other motorists at risk, which can be considered negligent.
Is it Illegal to Drive With Headphones in Illinois?
Yes, it is illegal to wear headphones while driving in Illinois. According to Illinois Compiled Statute Sec. 12-610, drivers are prohibited from using any headset device, other than hearing aids, while driving. Individuals driving an emergency vehicle are exempt from this law, and individuals with a novice class or higher amateur radio license are permitted to use a one-ear radio device while driving. There are no other exceptions to the law, and anyone else caught driving while wearing headphones may face fines.
Other States That Outlaw Driving With Headphones
Most states in the U.S. do not have laws that prohibit drivers from wearing headphones while driving. Aside from Illinois, the following states are the only eight states where it’s illegal to wear headphones while driving, without any major exception.
- Rhode Island
There are three major exceptions to state laws on wearing headphones while driving, which include using headphones to take a call, using headphones only in one ear, and using headphones for navigational purposes only.
Drivers can use headphones to take a call in the following states:
Drivers can use headphones in only one ear in:
- New York
Drivers can only use headphones for navigational help in:
What Are the Dangers of Driving With Headphones?
Not only can drivers face legal consequences if they wear headphones while driving, they may also put themselves and others in danger. Driving and listening to music through headphones can be incredibly dangerous for multiple reasons. While most headphones these days are wireless, there is also a risk of any corded headphones becoming tangled around the steering wheel, making it difficult to drive.
Headphones often help people shut out noise from the outside world, but wearing them behind the wheel can cause a driver to not hear crucial auditory cues like cars honking or emergency vehicles using sirens. This can occur when listening to music as well as answering phone calls while using headphones. Even if someone is driving in a state where it’s legal to use headphones while driving, they are still putting themselves and other drivers at risk.
Common Types of Injuries From Distracted Driving Accidents
Like other car accidents, any crash caused by someone using headphones while operating a vehicle can cause damage to person and property.
Motor vehicles can cause injuries such as:
- Broken bones;
- Crush injuries;
- Head injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries; and
- Wrongful death.
Victims of dangerous driving accidents can experience a lot of physical and emotional pain as a result of an accident. If you or someone you love has been in an accident with a distracted driver, you should seek legal representation to recover any damages caused by the accident. Chicago car accident lawyers at Curcio Law Offices can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at (312) 321-1111 or contact us via our website to schedule an appointment with us to discuss your case.
Can I Sue for a Distracted Driving Accident?
Yes, if you or a family member was killed or injured in a car crash caused by negligence, you can sue the negligent party for damages. This includes any accident caused by driving with headphones in. Careless driving cases can be difficult to navigate, so it’s important to find an experienced lawyer with in-depth knowledge of the Illinois legal system.
Proving Negligence Related to Driving With Headphones in Illinois
It is illegal to drive with headphones in Illinois, but drivers break distracted driving laws all over the country every day. If a negligent driver is caught breaking distracted driving laws, victims can use their criminal charges or citation report to prove they were in fact negligent.
Without any criminal charges, however, it may be difficult to prove the person who caused the accident did wear headphones while driving. Phone records may be able to prove the person at-fault was driving with impaired listening ability, but they may not prove that they were wearing headphones.
Damages for Distracted Driving Accidents in Illinois
Wearing headphones while driving a car is a dangerous act, and those who engage in such an act and cause an accident may be liable for damages caused. Like any other personal injury lawsuit, a victim of this kind of accident can take legal action against the at-fault driver. Victims may be able to recover compensation for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If the crash resulted in someone dying, their family may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover funeral costs and emotional damages.
Call Chicago Car Accident Lawyers at Curcio Law Offices Today
Operating a motor vehicle while wearing headphones is not only reckless, but also illegal in the state of Illinois. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a dangerous driving accident caused by headphone use, our law firm is prepared to provide you with expert legal counsel and help you recover damages from those liable. Chicago auto accident attorneys at Curcio Law Offices have the experience necessary to try your case. Contact us today at (312) 321-1111 and a member of our team will evaluate your case and discuss potential legal solutions.