The law on earbuds & headphones while driving

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – When we think of distracted driving, we often think of texting. But there’s another, less obvious distraction, that can have a big impact on your driving.

Many people use earbuds and headphones to take a call or listen to music. They think it’s safe because it’s hands free, but it’s not.

When a call comes into the dispatch center at MedCare Emergency Health in Greenfield, it typically takes less than minute for an ambulance to roll and less than 10 minutes to arrive at the emergency. But all that can change if you don’t follow the law.

In Massachusetts it is illegal to wear headphones or earbuds while operating a motor vehicle. The only way your allowed to do it is if you keep one ear free to hear those sirens and horns.

Sirens are most important in the daylight when emergency lights can be hard to see. Medcare’s Operations Director, Jason Edson told 22News in an emergency medical situation, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

“Anything that would block both ears and have something playing at the same time would make it potentially impossible to hear our sirens going. We might have to take an alternate route down a side street or other road, which could delay our response,” said Edson.

Greenield Police told 22News distracted drivers face fines.

“Texting and driving, multiple earbuds in both ears, and not moving over to the side of the road. Civil fines are attached,” said Greenfield Police Sgt. James¬†Rode.

And it’s not just cars. One woman told 22News even though it’s legal to bike with headphones and earbuds, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

“I’m a cyclist and when I see people wearing earbuds on a bicycle, it makes me crazy because I don’t only have to depend on what I see to stay safe, but also what I hear,” said Linda Rollins of Shelburne Falls.

Keeping both hands on the wheel, checking your mirrors, and using your eyes and ears to be aware of your surroundings can save lives, and save you money.

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