Ask The Driving School Instructor: Earplugs

Question: Is it illegal to drive with earplugs?

Answer: By earplugs, I’m guessing that you mean some type of earplugs or earbuds connected to an iPod, MP3, or some other type of music player. Whether it’s earplugs for music or earplugs to drown out the noise, the answer is yes; it’s illegal to wear any type of earplugs in both ears while driving. The only type of earplug allowed by law is that for a hearing aid in one ear.

For those blessed with good hearing, your hearing is a very important tool to warn you of dangers on the road. You need to be able to hear if an emergency vehicle is approaching so that you can get out of the way. The sound of screeching tires can alert you to a possible crash. Even the sound of your engine or the hum of your tires can alert you to a possible mechanical problem.

It’s hard enough to hear the sounds of the roadway to begin with. Modern cars have more soundproofing for a quieter ride and we tend to drive with the windows rolled up, the air-conditioner on, and the radio cranked up. That tends to block out all of those important roadway sounds that we need to hear and wearing earplugs just makes it that much more dangerous.

If you’re wondering then, how can deaf people drive? I grew up in the deaf community and was taught to drive – safely – by my deaf father. Drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing are perfectly safe drivers. They aren’t distracted by cell phones, the radio, air-conditioner, etc. and that allows them to pay even more attention to the roadway conditions around them; something every driver should try to do.