Is it Legal to Operate a Motor Vehicle With Headphones in Kentucky?

Most people do not think twice about putting headphones in their ears, regardless of what they’re doing. This includes driving.

But is it even legal to operate a vehicle in Kentucky with headphones in your ears?

Here, we want to examine various distracted driving laws in Kentucky, including operating with headphones or other types of Bluetooth/wireless devices.

Are There Kentucky Laws Banning Headphones While Driving?

We want to say right up front that there are no laws in Kentucky prohibiting individuals from wearing headphones while operating a motor vehicle. However, there are specific dangers associated with headphone usage that we will discuss in a moment.

Kentucky does have laws regarding distracted driving that you need to be aware of. For example, a law that went into effect on April 15, 2010, bans texting and driving for drivers of all ages while a vehicle is in motion. Those who are 18 years of age or older are allowed to use GPS devices, and they can touch their phones for reading, selecting, or entering a phone number or name for the purpose of making a call.

For drivers under the age of 18, no use of personal communication devices is allowed while the vehicle is moving. This includes looking at the screen to enter in a phone number or name to make a call.

What Are the Dangers of Wearing Headphones and Driving?

There are various dangers associated with using headphones while driving a vehicle. Even though we know using headphones can be tempting for a variety of reasons, we want you to think twice about doing so. Operating a motor vehicle with headphones playing can increase the risk of an auto accident as it increases sensory deprivation.

When we turn to information available from the state of Kentucky, we can see that there are three main types of distractions while driving:

  1. Visual distractions which take your eyes off the road
  2. Manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive distractions that take your mind off of driving

Which of these three do you think using headphones while operating the vehicle will fall under? Well, we should look at some of the hazards of operating a vehicle with headphones in:

  • Increased sensory deprivation. Driving requires us to use most of our senses, particularly sight and hearing. When you have headphones in, this can significantly reduce your ability to hear what is going on around you. You may not hear a warning honk from other drivers. You may not hear major hazards coming your way. Importantly, you may not be able to hear emergency sirens from police cars, fire trucks, or ambulances.
  •  Increased cognitive distraction. Regardless of whether or not you have your headphones in to listen to music, a podcast, or to talk on the phone, your mind is going to focus on things other than the task at hand, which is driving. You may get so wrapped up in a murder mystery that you do not realize you are traveling well above the speed limit.

If you need to talk on the phone or listen to music or a podcast while operating your vehicle, we encourage you to use a Bluetooth device that projects the sound throughout the car, not directly into your ears. By doing this, you will still be able to hear other types of hazards around you on the roadway and help limit the risks associated with car accidents and injuries.