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Ask Riotact: Can you wear headphones while driving in the ACT?

By Chris Mordd Richards - 9 August 2016 10

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Tried to research this online but it isn’t clear if it’s directly not allowed or down to an officers discretion whether it is causing a distraction.

Can anyone point to something definitive on this for the ACT specifically?

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
Ask Riotact: Can you wear headphones while driving in the ACT?
greenbamboo 10:10 am 29 Aug 16

Hi there,

there is a blog post about this on NRMA’s website. It states “Although wearing headphones while driving is not explicitly illegal, the practice is dangerous and could result in prosecution if deemed to be the cause of an accident.”
Unless you are emitting loud music that is causing disturbances to others, then it is something for you to worry about.

Mordd 2:19 pm 11 Aug 16

Leon said :

You can read the road rules at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2013-329/default.asp, or ask a lawyer.

I would expect that it would be up to an officer’s discretion whether or not to charge you with something like inattentive driving. If you decided to contest the charge, it would be up to the court to decide whether or not the evidence proved the charge.

Thanks, pity the 6 comments on here haven’t re-appeared yet. I was going to post this last night, but the site migration gad started so I waited till today.

ACT Policing twitter account replied to me yesterday on this:

ACT Policing ?@ACTPolicing 22h hours ago
@Mordd_IndyMedia There is no offence for wearing headphones but it is not a practice that we recommend as it limits the drivers capacity

So there you go.

Leon 1:05 pm 11 Aug 16

You can read the road rules at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2013-329/default.asp, or ask a lawyer.

I would expect that it would be up to an officer’s discretion whether or not to charge you with something like inattentive driving. If you decided to contest the charge, it would be up to the court to decide whether or not the evidence proved the charge.

John Moulis 5:11 pm 10 Aug 16

I remember during the Walkman era in the 1980s there definitely was a law against it. There was a flurry of media stories for a few days about drivers wearing earphones and the AFP said they would be cracking down on it.

dungfungus 2:01 pm 10 Aug 16

JC said :

I regularly use headphones as my car doesn’t have Bluetooth and I can answer the phone – without having to touch the phone itself – by using the control on the headphone cord and field the call without breaking the law.
Usually I only have one in, but I put both sides in if a good song comes onto my playlist.
As for not being able to hear things outside the car, most newer cars are really good at insulating the driver from any external sounds, and once you crank the radio or ipod, to me it seems like there’s little difference to headphones.

It was nice knowing you, albeit briefly.

cea075 10:12 am 10 Aug 16

I regularly use headphones as my car doesn’t have Bluetooth and I can answer the phone – without having to touch the phone itself – by using the control on the headphone cord and field the call without breaking the law.
Usually I only have one in, but I put both sides in if a good song comes onto my playlist.
As for not being able to hear things outside the car, most newer cars are really good at insulating the driver from any external sounds, and once you crank the radio or ipod, to me it seems like there’s little difference to headphones.

Rollersk8r 9:48 am 10 Aug 16

Yeah I’ve never understood it. I think a proportion of people have small headphones in to talk on the phone while driving – but I see people with big headphones clearly for listening to music. I know from cycling that headphones greatly reduce your overall awareness…

Mordd 11:50 pm 09 Aug 16

chewy14 said :

The main reason not to wear headphones in the car I believe is so that you can hear emergency services vehicles approaching. However, are deaf people not allowed to drive because of this? I don’t think so.

Yeh, there’s a lot of stuff on other states in Aus rules, but I can’t find anything for ACT. Some places seem to allow 1 ear in, 1 ear out, and that’s ok, but both ears is a no-no. I’m not planning on doing it myself, I have a decent stereo and sub but I was reading about this in the USA, and it made me curious, so I went searching, and like I said, could find stuff for NSW, VIC, QLD, etc.. but not for ACT.

wildturkeycanoe 10:42 pm 09 Aug 16

The main reason not to wear headphones in the car I believe is so that you can hear emergency services vehicles approaching. However, are deaf people not allowed to drive because of this? I don’t think so.

sehmahare 7:36 pm 09 Aug 16

I’d assume it’s probably not a good idea and therefore there’s likely a law against it. You’re unable to properly hear sirens of emergency vehicles so I’d say that’s a good reason not to.

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