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Author Topic: Headphones while driving
Stephan
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I liked OSC's mention of audiobooks, but he mentioned driving with headphones and listening to classical music on the radio. Is that not dangerous? I remember as a teen being told to NEVER drive with headphones on.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I have heard that many times myself.

I routinely drive wearing headphones and listening to audiobooks.

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AchillesHeel
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When I had a POS car and a long drive I opted for headphones and my MP3 player, never felt very intelligent about it though.
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Samprimary
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It really shouldn't be any more of a cognitive taxation than listening to the radio.
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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
It really shouldn't be any more of a cognitive taxation than listening to the radio.

Interruption of incoming sound that you may need to hear, horns... sirens.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
It really shouldn't be any more of a cognitive taxation than listening to the radio.

Interruption of incoming sound that you may need to hear, horns... sirens.
If your radio was loud enough wouldn't it effectively cancel those sounds out as well?
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Strider
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I listen to audiobooks through headphones in my car.

I think audiobooks are at least safer than music in that music tends to be louder than listening to someone speak in your ear. I've never not heard a horn or a siren. Though sure, not having headphones would be safer. And not having the radio on at all would be still more safe. Not to mention not driving in the first place.

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Strider
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also worth mentioning, I know in my state at least, driving while wearing headphones is illegal. You can have one headphone in your ear, but not both.
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AchillesHeel
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But the car speakers would have to be much louder than usual to block the same amount of sound as physically covering your ears, I now have a safer alternitive while driving through the mountains and I make use of it.

If the book is on a CD, play it with the car stereo. If its a digital copy make use of your listening device and an aux in cable. No real reason not to.

ETA
Many headphones and buds proud themselves on the noise cancelling technology, nicer the phones more dangerous while driving.

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Carrie
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I can't wear earbud-type headphones, because holy crap are they uncomfortable. So I have these awesome noise-canceling over-ear headphones, which I can clearly not wear while driving.

It seems a bit irresponsible to me, wearing headphones at all while driving. So does listening to the radio real loud, but I do that anyhow, so who am I to judge? [Wink]

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Bella Bee
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When I used to drive a lot for work, I used to listen to audiobooks on the normal car radio, with a transmitter from my i-Pod. It's just the same as listening to talk radio, unless your speakers are completely shot.

But before that car, I had an ancient banger which had a busted radio, so I kept one earphone in and one out so that I could still hear anything important.
Failing that, I would sing.

Now that I take public transport, I really should invest in some better headphones, as the ones I have can't compete with the noise of the trains.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:

I think audiobooks are at least safer than music in that music tends to be louder than listening to someone speak in your ear. I've never not heard a horn or a siren. Though sure, not having headphones would be safer. And not having the radio on at all would be still more safe. Not to mention not driving in the first place.

My thoughts exactly.
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twinky
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I don't see what the advantage of headphones is over using the car's speakers at the volumes you guys are talking about.
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Misha McBride
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When I'm driving the cruddy car to work I listen to audiobooks or music on my MP3 player with headphones. I usually keep one ear uncovered just to be safe/in case a cop sees me, but on the few occasions that I've worn both I can still hear outside noises without trouble. However I use either cheap Walmart earbuds or a pair of Maxell folding headphones instead of the super noise canceling kind, so that may make a difference.
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The Rabbit
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Given all the dangerous and stupid things people do when they are driving, listen to books or music through head phones is the very least of my concerns. I'm generally anti-headphone. I pretty much figure that half the population is going to have substantial hearing loss by their mid thirties because of them. But other than that, I don't see this as a major problem when driving. Deaf people are able to drive just fine and do not have more accidents or citations than people with perfect hearing.
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Goody Scrivener
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Illegal in my state as well, under the presumption that having headphones on blocks your ability to hear sirens, etc.
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Strider
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Twinky and Achilles, I don't have an audio in on my car stereo, so unless I get one of those FM transmitters, that's not an option for me. And my experience with those has not been great.

Also, separately, for completely comfort reasons, it's so much simpler for me to just get in and out of my car and not have to cause a break in my listening experience. Again, safety would trump this if I really thought it was a concern, but it just makes things simpler.

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advice for robots
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A speaker experience is distinctly different than a headphones experience for me. When I have headphones in I tend to tune out the world more; with music playing on speakers, I'm still fairly alert. I don't drive with headphones precisely because it makes me less alert on the road to do so.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Driving with headphones on both ears is illegal where I live too. But then again so is turning up your stereo so loud that it is the same effect as headphones.

quote:
I've never not heard a horn or a siren.
Ah, but are you sure? Since if you missed one, you might not be aware of it.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Driving with headphones on both ears is illegal where I live too. But then again so is turning up your stereo so loud that it is the same effect as headphones.

quote:
I've never not heard a horn or a siren.
Ah, but are you sure? Since if you missed one, you might not be aware of it.
Hearing horns and sirens isn't all that important. If it were, deaf drivers would be more dangerous. They are not.

The issue with headphones is the distraction they cause, not that reduce you ability to hear other stuff. And as I said before, people do so many things that are far more distracting while they drive that headphones aren't on my radar.

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Glenn Arnold
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I wore headphones while driving once, back when the SONY walkman first came out. I thought it was fine at first, and then I turned my head, and the sound turned with it. I found it very disorienting, like I didn't know which way I was facing anymore. I haven't worn them in the car since.

Also, Bicycling magazine ran an article (probably about 20 years ago) explaining that it is illegal in most states to ride a bike with headphones, and (IIRC) claimed that about 600 bicycling deaths had been attributed to headphones the previous year, including one where the bicyclist didn't hear a train horn.

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The Rabbit
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I think the bicycling situation is quite different from driving a car. As a cyclist, I rely on my ears to track approaching traffic. Inside a car, I'm far more isolated from my environment. The steel cage and my own engine noise insulate me from most of the surrounding sounds.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Goody Scrivener:
Illegal in my state as well, under the presumption that having headphones on blocks your ability to hear sirens, etc.

Same in mine (California).

I am also unconvinced that an inability to hear sirens is not dangerous.

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Shanna
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Even my uber-cheap headphones block out enough noise that I wouldn't feel safe driving with them in. I spend alot of time at work either with headphones in or listening to my stereo. The side effect being that I'm infamous for being startled with my headphones in. I keep the volume turned down low enough that I can hear pages over the loudspeaker or even sounds as faint as a coworker knocking on the door to be let in. But my attention in turned towards the music more when I'm using headphones as opposed to a stereo.

Its the same problem that makes me not fond of talking on the phone while driving. The sound is just too close to my brain or something. Kinda like how a chatterbox person becomes more annoying the closer they stand to you.

I got my car brand new eight years ago, before audio adapters and jacks became common. Two years later, my brother got a newer version of the same car and it came ipod-ready. A year after I got my car, my dad took my car to some auto stereo shop and had them rig an ipod adapter right into my sound system. Its been the most used birthday gift I've ever gotten.

As for deaf people, I trust them to have alot of experience in compensating. The average driver doesn't have alot of practice being extra-aware, so I'm not sure I'd trust them with mini-stereos shoved right into their ears.

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Stephan
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Would it be unwise with a baby in the backseat? I really miss my audio books on my morning commute, but she screams when people are talking and not singing over the speakers.
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theamazeeaz
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I was told it was illegal in driver's ed.
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stihl1
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I drive while wearing headphones often.
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Stephan
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After almost a year, I have a much better answer to my question.

Illegal in Rhode Island, Maryland (my state), Louisiana, and Colorado.

http://lifehacker.com/5902802/ever-wonder-if-its-actually-legal-to-wear-headphones-when-youre-driving

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Samprimary
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what
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Goody Scrivener:
Illegal in my state as well, under the presumption that having headphones on blocks your ability to hear sirens, etc.

Same in mine (California).

I am also unconvinced that an inability to hear sirens is not dangerous.

Incidentally, I believe the letter of the law is that one ear must be free in California. I was stopped occasionally at university on my bicycle for wearing headphones, and the officer just gave me a warning and told me to leave one ear free. Biking and driving law, at least as I was told, are the same in that regard.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Incidentally, I believe the letter of the law is that one ear must be free in California.

I believe that was changed at some point. I took driver's ed a long time ago. [Wink]
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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
I am also unconvinced that an inability to hear sirens is not dangerous.

I think the relatively low prevalence of deafness is one reason it may not seem connected to more problems in this area. When almost all people around you are able to hear sirens, there is a general mass movement to slow down, pull over, etc. There are visual cues from the surrounding traffic.

If a greater percentage of people were deaf (or wearing headphones that tend to block the noise of sirens not right up close), I think it would take longer for traffic to move over in general, and I think there would be more milling about as people tried to figure out what was going on.

When most people involved have multiple cues, the effect of a small number missing one of those cues is likely to be less -- but as more and more people begin to rely on only one cue, I expect errors in processing the information quickly would mount.

[ April 25, 2012, 11:00 AM: Message edited by: CT ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Also, Bicycling magazine ran an article (probably about 20 years ago) explaining that it is illegal in most states to ride a bike with headphones, and (IIRC) claimed that about 600 bicycling deaths had been attributed to headphones the previous year.
That number is too high to be even remotely likely. There are about 700 bicycling death per year in the US. That number has been almost constant for the past decade so its unlikely it was much higher 20 years ago. It's unimaginable that the vast majority of cycling deaths are attributable to headphones.
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Geraine
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Most cars now have an audio jack for the stereo. It makes it nice since I can just purchase the audio books on my iphone and plug it right in while I drive. Pandora / Spotify is also really nice to use while on the go.

Car decks with an audio input are also fairly cheap these days, so even older model cars can be fitted with one without breaking the bank.

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