What you’ll learn from this article:
- Many people misunderstand whether it’s legal to drive with headphones in Indiana.
- Indiana’s new Hands-Free Driving Law specifically mentions wearing headsets while driving.
- After an accident, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side who knows how to handle cases that involve headphones and headsets.
Wearing headphones while driving is a controversial topic in Indiana. Plenty of people believe it’s illegal.
When they see people driving while wearing headphones or headsets, some will wag their fingers and say, “That’s not legal!” This is particularly common after a car accident when it’s time to sort through liability and try to place the blame.
So, is it legal to drive with headphones? You might be surprised to discover that wearing headphones and headsets while driving is legal in Indiana. In fact, a new law encourages the use of headsets while driving instead of handling your cell phone.
Indiana’s Hands-Free Law
In 2020, state legislators introduced Indiana’s Hands-Free Driving Law to reduce unsafe behaviors like texting and driving. As part of the law, headsets are legal as safe alternatives to touching or looking at your phone.
The Hands-Free Driving Law means:
- You are allowed to use a Bluetooth headset or other hands-free technology while driving.
- You are allowed to use your phone’s GPS for out-loud directions in hands-free mode.
- Otherwise, you can’t use your cell phone if it’s in your hand while driving.
- Fines of up to $500 can be enforced under this law and points can be added to your driver’s record.
This law acknowledges the fact that distractions come in many forms, and some distractions are worse than others. Having an earbud in your ear to listen to driving directions is considered far less worrisome than a dangerous behavior like taking your eyes and hands off the road to look up directions on your phone.
Is it Illegal to Wear a Bluetooth Headset While Driving?
Not only is it legal to wear a Bluetooth headset while driving, Indiana’s Hands-Free Driving Law clearly supports doing so. INDOT’s recommendation for Indiana drivers specifically states, “You can use your Bluetooth, headset, or any other hands-free technology.”
The research supports the law. Distracted driving is a major contributor to car accidents with severe outcomes like death and serious injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that the risk of a crash is 2 to 6 times higher when someone has a cell phone in their hand as opposed to using hands-free technology.
When states enact hands-free laws like the new law we have in Indiana, their rates of traffic fatalities usually decline by about 15%. With fewer car crashes, we’re saving Hoosier lives and preventing the tragic, life-changing fallout of severe car accidents.
If Wearing a Headset is Legal, Am I Still Liable?
Although using a hands-free headset is legal, it’s not always a good idea. You can still be held liable for doing anything that’s distracting enough to cause a crash, including wearing a headset or headphones.
If your headset was blasting loud music, it was probably a hindrance rather than a help to your driving. Bulky headphones that fully encase the ears can prevent people from hearing approaching ambulances and police vehicles. After a crash, these details are examined closely to see who’s at fault.
Indiana uses the modified comparative fault rule to determine liability in traffic accidents. The fault of each party in an accident is compared and assigned a percentage, totaling 100%. If you hold 51% or more responsibility, you’re barred from receiving accident compensation.
This means your decision to wear headphones could lead to a situation where you’re viewed as liable enough that you can’t claim money from the accident. This is why most attorneys discourage the use of headphones while driving, even though they’re legal.
Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery – Indianapolis Car Accident Attorneys
After an accident, you have questions. Is it legal to drive with headphones and does it impact your liability? For answers to these questions and more, seek insight from an Indiana car accident attorney. Our car accident attorneys know how to handle cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We’ll review your case and offer guidance on your best options. Don’t hesitate. One of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Contact Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery at 1-800-265-9881 for a free car accident case review.