Can Minnesota Drivers Be Held Liable for Wearing Earbuds or AirPods While Driving?

woman using airpods while drivingPeople do all kinds of activities while listening to music through their AirPods or earbuds. The problem is that music can be distracting, especially when engaging in activities that require higher levels of focus, like driving.

While drivers may prefer to listen to music through their earbuds instead of their car stereos, this is a highly dangerous activity that can result in severe car crashes.

TSR Injury Law’s experienced Minneapolis car accident lawyers discuss Minnesota’s state law on using headphones while driving, the dangers of this activity, and liability for collisions that may occur. We have been assisting crash victims in Minnesota for decades, recovering millions on their behalf.

There are no upfront fees when you hire our services. Call (612) TSR-TIME.

Is It Legal To Use Earbuds or AirPods While Driving in Minnesota?

Minnesota law is quite clear on the use of headphones or earphones while driving:

It is illegal to wear headphones or earphones on or in both ears to listen to broadcasts or reproductions, such as music or podcasts, from sound-producing or transmitting devices.

However, the law does make some exceptions:

  • Minnesota does not prohibit the use of hearing aids for individuals who need them.
  • Firefighters are allowed to use a communication headset while operating a fire department emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency.
  • Emergency medical services personnel can also use a communication headset while operating an ambulance.

The bottom line is you can use a single earpiece, but using headphones or earphones in both ears for entertainment purposes while driving is against the law.

Why Driving While Using Earbuds or AirPods Is Dangerous

Headphones create a distraction for drivers, and distractions can make drivers much more likely to cause a collision that could result in significant injuries.

Ford Study on Wearing Headphones While Driving

In 2021, Ford Motor Company did a study about how wearing headphones affects drivers’ spatial recognition. Disrupting your spatial recognition behind the wheel could impair your ability to respond to audio cues, like sirens, horns or pedestrians calling out.

Ford used an app that played 8D spatial audio and displayed a virtual-reality street with sound cues that participants were asked to identify. For instance, study participants would be asked if they heard an ambulance approaching them from behind.

The 2,000 participants in the study were divided into two groups: one group wore headphones that played music, and another did not.

The study revealed that individuals who wore headphones while driving and listening to music were, on average, 4.2 seconds slower in recognizing and responding to auditory cues compared to those without headphones. This delay in reaction time could be the difference between avoiding a crash and not.

Risks of Using AirPods or Earbuds Behind the Wheel

Ford’s study serves as a compelling reminder of the importance of maintaining full awareness while driving and refraining from potentially hazardous distractions like headphones.

When headphones are in your ears, you are less likely to hear audio cues, such as horns honking, police car sirens and various other traffic sounds. In addition, headphones can also be a manual distraction. For example, you may take your eyes off the road to change songs or podcasts on your phone. Often, people may take one or both hands off the wheel to do this.

Liability for a Collision Caused by a Driver Who Was Using Earbuds or AirPods

If you were injured in a crash and you think the driver was wearing headphones in both ears at the time of the collision, he or she is more likely to be liable for damages. This is not only a violation of Minnesota law, but also dangerous behavior.

Crash victims must provide evidence of the other driver’s negligence to establish liability. You may be wondering what evidence there could be, short of a picture or video of the driver in the moments before the crash.

However, you may not need to prove the other driver was distracted. You just need to show the driver did something negligent behind the wheel, such as drifting into your lane of traffic and hitting your vehicle or rear-ending you when you were stopped at a red light.

The experienced lawyers at our firm have helped many crash victims establish liability for damages. We know how to investigate collisions to determine what happened and explain how the incident could have been prevented. We also know how to preserve evidence that may be vital to the success of your compensation claim.

Injured by a Distracted Driver in Minnesota? Call TSR Today

If a distracted driver has caused you harm, remember that you have the legal right to seek compensation for the losses you have endured. At TSR Injury Law, our team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to guide you through every step of the legal journey.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us today. Your well-being and pursuit of justice are our top priorities, and we are here to support you during this challenging time.

Call to schedule your free legal consultation: (612) TSR-TIME.

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