By Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Traffic Attorney, Harrisburg, PA
You may be aware that the PA Legislature recently enacted a law that prohibits texting while driving. That prohibition is set to take effect soon. However, many do not know that it is now illegal to drive while wearing headphones. It doesn't even matter that you may not be listening to anything at the time.
There is no affirmative showing required that a radio/iPod/walkman which is being worn is, in fact, being operated. The use of hearing aids or other devices for improving the hearing of the driver, however, is not prohibited. In addition, the use of a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear, such as a blue tooth device, and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear is not prohibited. Likewise, the use of communication equipment by the driver of an emergency vehicle or by motorcycle operators complying with the statute relating to protective equipment for motorcycle riders is not prohibited.
So, in addition to stopping a driver because they appear distracted (probably texting while driving), the police may stop you if you've got headphones on. Some phone users may have chords that attach to two headsets. These would be illegal under the Act. You may, however, use a blue tooth device that has only one earpiece.