Considering how convenient AirPods are, you might wonder if you can drive while wearing them. After all, they make music more immersive and calls easier to answer. However, it turns out that the legality of wearing headphones while driving is surprisingly complicated.
Whether or not you can drive with AirPods varies from state to state in the U.S. Some regions enforce laws that ban wearing headphones while operating a motor vehicle. Meanwhile, other states don’t have rules regarding using AirPods or only allow you to wear them in one ear.
Below, this article dives into which states do and don’t allow driving while wearing AirPods. And we’ll also explain you shouldn’t wear them on the road even when they’re legal.
Where Driving With AirPods Is Illegal
Several states enacted laws in recent years that prohibit the use of headphones while driving. And the purpose behind these rules is more than anything about safety.
Driving with AirPods or any other headphones presents several risks. Not just to the driver themself but also to other people on the road. For example, your earbuds might prevent you from hearing another car’s horn and cause an accident.
Here are the states where driving with AirPods is illegal:
- Rhode Island
As you can see, relatively few states have rules outlawing using headphones while driving.
Furthermore, some of the above states’ rules apply only to specific circumstances. Alaska, for example, has exceptions for GPS audio devices and communication between motorcyclists.
Some states may also allow the use of only one earbud. Or for motorcyclists to wear headphones so long as they’re part of protective equipment.
To be sure, always research your state and county’s specific laws.
Where Driving With AirPods Is Legal
Below are the states that allow driving with AirPods or have no rules regulating it:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Surprisingly, many states don’t have laws explicitly about using headphones while driving despite the dangers involved.
But don’t mistakenly believe that living in these places puts you in the clear—because police and highway patrol may still ticket you for wearing them in specific circumstances.
For example, suppose you get pulled over for speeding. If the officer sees you’re also wearing headphones, they may slap you with additional reckless endangerment charges. However, these situations vary by state and county.
Exceptions for Driving With AirPods
Some states straddle a legal gray area when it comes to earphones. It’s not just a question of can you drive with AirPods. Instead, it often comes down to when it’s allowed and who may do it.
Here is a list of states with specific or unique exceptions for driving with AirPods:
- Arizona – Child-care workers and school bus drivers aren’t allowed to use headphones while driving. However, there are no rules forbidding the general public from doing it.
- Colorado – It’s illegal to use headphones unless you only use one ear for phone calls. Using them for listening to music or other entertainment is prohibited.
- Florida – It’sIllegal to use headphones, except when only on one ear for phone calls.
- Georgia – Georgia’s laws are slightly complicated. It’s legal for drivers to wear AirPods and other headphones. However, it’s only allowed for phone calls and communication.
- Illinois – Illegal to use headphones, except when only using one ear. It does not matter whether for music or phone calls.
- Massachusetts – It’s illegal to use headphones, except when only on one ear for phone calls or navigational purposes.
- New York – New York allows the use of earbuds or headphones on one ear, regardless of purpose.
- Pennsylvania – It’s illegal to use headphones, except when only using one ear. Motorcyclists may use both ears if it’s part of their protective equipment.
While not a state, Washington D.C. also allows for the use of headphones on only one ear.
Dangers of Driving With AirPods
Driving with AirPods in, while convenient, is extremely dangerous.
Being fully aware of your surroundings is vital for safely operating motor vehicles. And unfortunately, wearing AirPods or other headphones make that much more challenging to do.
Here are some of the problems posed by using AirPods while driving:
- Unable to hear sirens or horns – The noise-canceling capabilities of AirPods can render ambulances and other cars inaudible. Failing to notice these sounds can lead to a ticket or collision.
- Distraction while driving – It’s common for AirPods and other earbuds to fall out. And when they do, you may instinctively fish for them when you should focus on the road. Similarly, you might get distracted if your earbuds run out of battery.
- Vehicle maintenance – Your AirPods may drown out audible mechanical issues in your vehicle.
- Accident liability – If you get into an accident, wearing headphones may shift all blame to you. After all, an officer or other driver can easily claim you were distracted.
As you can see, it makes sense why some states enacted laws against driving with headphones. Using them puts you at a higher risk of accidents and collisions. Not to mention endangering those around you on the road.
The legality of driving with AirPods or other headphone devices varies by state. Some places have no rules regarding the act, while others will pull you over for it.
However, regardless of the legality, driving with AirPods is undoubtedly dangerous and should be avoided.