According to California Vehicle Code (CVC) §27400, cyclists aren’t allowed to wear headphones or earbuds in both ears. In fact, all motorists are barred from wearing headphones on both ears under this law.
Cyclists can, however, legally wear a headphone/earbud in one ear. They must, however, keep one ear completely open so they can remain vigilant on the roads.
There are a few exceptions to CVC §27400. As a general rule of thumb, if the headphones you’re wearing weren’t “designed to aid hearing or specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels,” then it’s highly likely they aren’t legal.
Motorists who can legally use headphones in both ears must be operating an emergency vehicle, construction equipment, or garbage trucks. California law also allows people with hearing disabilities to wear headphones or prosthetics so long as they help the driver hear what’s going on around him/her.
Headphone Laws Across The USA
Currently, there’s no nationwide ban on headphone use while driving or cycling in the USA. Instead, each state has to come up with its own rules and restrictions. If you’re someone who likes to listen to headphones while riding around, it’s important that you check the laws of whatever state you’re in.
According to AAA, the four states with the strictest bans on wearing headphones while driving or cycling are the following: Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Please don’t wear headphones, even if it’s only in one ear, in any of these states.
About 14 states, including California, have restrictions on headphone use with a few exceptions. You need to read the headphone laws very closely in these states: Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Georgia, Alaska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Arizona.
As of today, every other state in the USA has no laws restricting headphone use while driving or cycling. This includes the District of Columbia.
Even though laws might not be on the books in the state your visiting, it’s still not a great idea to blast your headphones while cycling. If it’s legal and you want to wear your headphones, please at least keep one ear open and put the volume down to decrease the likelihood of getting involved in an accident.
Bay Area Bicycle Law
Representing clients in San Francisco, the Bay Area, Oakland and everywhere in northern California, Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm to specialize exclusively in representing cyclists. Our attorneys have extensive experience working on bicycle crash cases. By devoting our careers to this niche, we can guarantee the superior service required to win your case. If you or a loved one has been involved a bicycle crash anywhere in California, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.