A comment in our post of ‘To pod or not to pod’ brought up an interesting question: Is riding with headphones legal? Being a California Commuter, I did a search on the California Vehicle code regarding this matter. Here’s what I came up with:
27400. A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears. This prohibition does not apply to any of the following:
(a) A person operating authorized emergency vehicles, as defined in Section 165.
(b) A person engaged in the operation of either special construction equipment or equipment for use in the maintenance of any highway.
(c) A person engaged in the operation of refuse collection equipment who is wearing a safety headset or safety earplugs.
(d) A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer’s ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.
(e) A person using a prosthetic device that aids the hard of hearing.
Notice that the California law says ‘both ears’. Please check your state’s vehicle code to see if riding with earphones is legal
As I commented before, I tend to ride with 1 earplug on my right ear only on situations where is safe to do so, I rely on my rear view mirror more than my hearing to ride safely.