Car accident attorneys at The Burkett Law Firm represent clients who are injured due to someone else’s neglect or wrongful act. Distracted driving is a serious concern on Texas roadways. In 2021, for example, distracted driving accounted for one out of every five accidents in Texas.
While most people are aware of common distractions while behind the wheel, such as texting, eating, or grooming, another distraction isn’t as obvious – using headphones.
Is It Illegal to Use Headphones While Driving in Texas?
Having headphones in your ears while driving isn’t illegal in Texas; however, if you do this, you may receive a citation for “dangerous driving.” The truth is, having headphones on while behind the wheel is one of the most dangerous things you can do.
When you drive, you rely on the ability to see and hear what is going on around you. If you have headphones on, it may block out all the other noise, increasing the likelihood of you causing or being involved in an accident.
Some people have excuses to try and justify why they are using headphones. One is that they have Bluetooth connected to ensure hands-free talking. Another is that they are using their phone for navigation. While these may be legitimate reasons to wear headphones while driving, it’s important to understand the law and the dangers associated with doing this.
Unsafe vs. Illegal
As mentioned above, Texas traffic laws don’t mention anything related to listening to music or wearing headphones while you are driving. However, this doesn’t mean you should do this while behind the wheel.
Drivers may still get in legal trouble if they have headphones on while driving, even though the Texas Statutes don’t include a rule against this. It is possible to still receive a citation.
According to Section 545.401 of the Texas Transportation Code, a driver has committed a dangerous driving offense if they drive with a wanton or willful disregard for others’ safety. If you have headphones on when driving, it meets the stipulations in this definition because you won’t pay enough attention to the road and what is happening around you.
If you wear headphones, it will block out surrounding noises and increase the possibility of an accident. You may be considered guilty of disregarding others’ safety if this happens.
Wearing headphones is considered a type of distracted driving. Playing podcasts or music through your headphones may block out other sounds, which makes it impossible for you to focus on the road. Even though Texas’ distracted driving laws mainly apply to cell phone use, they can extend to virtually any type of distraction. This includes personal grooming, talking to passengers, eating, and using headphones.
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous types of driving you can engage in.
Why Wearing Headphones Is So Dangerous While Driving
If you wear headphones while driving, you may not be able to hear other drivers using their horns, shouting, or the sound of emergency vehicle sirens. This can cause a delayed reaction and increase the risk of an accident. If you are wearing your headphones when an accident occurs, the other driver may try to use this against you to say you were at fault. Headphones may distract you to the point that you are held liable for all the injuries and damages that occur because of the accident.
Even if you aren’t involved in an accident, you may face a misdemeanor dangerous driving charge if you wear headphones while behind the wheel. This may happen if the use of your headphones contributed to breaking a roadway rule, like missing a stop sign or not yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians at a crosswalk. If your headphones distracted you and caused you to break a traffic law, then you may be charged with dangerous driving. The consequence for this is up to 30 days in jail or a $200 file.
Staying Safe on the Road
If you want to keep yourself and other people on the road safe, try not to wear headphones when you drive. When there’s no way to avoid wearing headphones while driving, be sure you keep a few things in mind:
- Only turn the volume up as high as necessary.
- Be sure you can still hear your surroundings.
- Use just one earbud or side of the headphones so your other ear can hear your surroundings. Use your headphones in the right ear, which is furthest away from the driver’s side window.
- If you have headphones in, roll a window to hear the traffic conditions and your surroundings better.
Make sure you pay attention to the road while listening to your headphones. Don’t take your eyes off the road to change the radio or anything else. You must remain aware while listening to headphones, which will help you prove to the authorities that you did everything possible to prevent an accident.
If you are involved in an accident while wearing headphones or with someone who is wearing headphones, it doesn’t automatically mean you (or the other person) are liable. Never admit fault; instead, get in touch with our Texas car accident lawyers immediately for assistance.
What to Do If You Are Injured in an Accident with Someone Wearing Headphones
If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver, you should try to remain calm. Don’t place blame on the other driver at the scene. Instead, contact the authorities and an ambulance if emergency care is needed.
Don’t discuss the accident details with anyone at the scene beside the authorities. If someone offers to help you, or if they saw what happened, make sure you write down their contact information. Your attorney may need this information if you decide to file a lawsuit.
If you are injured, make sure you get medical care. It’s important to document your injuries, as this is an essential part of the personal injury claims process. Having medical records that show you were injured because of the accident is a must.
It’s also necessary to get in touch with car accident attorneys. Our legal team will work to collect evidence related to the accident and investigate the cause of the crash. We will handle the entire legal process while you focus on recovering from your injuries. We will also work to protect you from insurance adjusters who may try to encourage you to accept an early settlement that isn’t in your best interest.
Potential Damages You Can Recover in a Distracted Driving Accident
The damages you may receive after being involved in a car accident with someone wearing headphones depend on a few factors.
Some of the damages awarded in these cases include:
- Current and future medical bills and costs related to the accident and your injuries.
- Current and future loss of income that includes reductions in your future earning potential.
- Damages for pain and suffering caused by discomfort caused by your physical injuries and distress resulting from mental or emotional trauma.
- Disfigurement, disabilities, and impairments.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Depression, PTSD, and other types of psychological injuries.
- Reduced quality of life.
Don’t Wait to Call Our Legal Team at The Burkett Law Firm for Help
You have rights if you have been injured in an accident with a distracted driver. Contact our legal team at The Burkett Law Firm to discuss your claim. We can help you through this difficult time.