Headphones are great for talking on the phone and listening to music, and some people like to wear them when they’re driving to block out traffic noise and get a feeling of isolation from the outside world while they’re in their cars. However, wearing headphones while you’re riding a motorcycle is an entirely different experience that poses unique safety risks, which is why this practice is illegal in many locations. Some states allow the use of built-in helmet audio systems but prohibit the use of in-ear headphones, while in California, it’s legal to use a listening device in one ear but not both. The experienced professionals from Altra Insurance, the leading providers of affordable motorcycle insurance San Diego bikers know they can rely on, explain how wearing headphones on a motorcycle affects your ability to ride safely and offer suggestions for safer alternatives.
Headphones Can Restrict Your Hearing
When you’re driving a car, you’re relatively safe because you’re surrounded by a solid structure made of strong materials. On a motorcycle, though, there’s nothing to protect you from the elements and other vehicles on the road, so you have to pay extra attention to what’s going on around you and be constantly vigilant about maintaining control of your bike. This means you have to be able to hear the sounds of both traffic and your motorcycle itself. When your ears are able to register more sound, you’ll be more conscious of your surroundings. If you’re wearing headphones, your ability to hear a car horn or the roar of an approaching engine can be drastically reduced, which is especially dangerous if you’re riding in heavy traffic.
Your Attention Span Could Be Reduced
If you’re using headphones to listen to music or talk to someone on the phone while you’re riding, your ability to focus your attention on the road can be severely compromised. When you’re riding a motorcycle, your entire focus needs to be on making sure you stay balanced and avoiding road hazards and crashing into other vehicles. If you’re distracted by music or conversation through your headphones, most of your attention is going to be directed to what you’re hearing instead of the road, which can easily make you lose focus and fail to recognize when a car gets too close to you or traffic conditions require you to react quickly.
Headphones Can Affect Your Reaction Time
Because operating a motorcycle safely requires you to use your senses of sight, touch, and sound simultaneously, wearing headphones while you’re riding can reduce your ability to react immediately and appropriately when an urgent situation arises. For instance, if you’re listening to music at high volume, you could get so caught up in the pleasure of the song and the feel of the open air that you won’t notice a car approaching until it rushes past you, catching you by surprise and causing you to lose control of your bike.
Built-In Helmet Headphones Are an Alternative
Several states where earbuds or headphones are deemed illegal or dangerous to wear when riding a motorcycle recommend using built-in helmet headphones instead. These headphones are attached to the helmet itself and typically use Bluetooth technology that can provide an experience similar to the one you get when you’re wearing conventional headphones. The advantage of these headphones is that they don’t completely cover your ear or fit completely inside your ear canal so you can still hear traffic noise and keep your focus on the road.
You May Be Able to Use Just One Earbud
In some states, including California, you can legally use one earbud while you’re riding a motorcycle. This allows you to remain aware of your surroundings. However, even if you’re only using one earbud, you shouldn’t have the volume cranked up so high that it poses a distraction. The safest practice is to keep the volume low so you can maintain your focus on the road and what’s going on around you.
In addition to being committed to safe riding, another important aspect of owning a motorcycle is having adequate insurance. If you need affordable, reliable motorcycle insurance, reach out to the experienced agents at Altra Insurance Services. We also offer several other types of coverage, including homeowners, renters, and car insurance Chula vista residents should call us today at (800) 719-9972.