Think wearing headphones while driving your car is a fairly innocuous thing to do? Well, you might be in the minority because 83 per cent of UK adults would like to see the practice made illegal, according to a survey.
The poll, by ContractHireAndLeasing.com, asked 2,056 UK residents: “To what extent do you agree or disagree that wearing headphones while driving a vehicle should be made illegal?” 56 per cent of respondents replied they strongly agreed with the statement and 27 per cent somewhat agreed, while just 8 per cent somewhat disagreed and 4 per cent strongly disagreed. 5 per cent of voters were not bothered either way, presumably because they had their headphones on and weren’t listening in the first place.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, location and age played a part in the vote. 88 per cent of those aged over 45 strongly agreed headphone use at the wheel should be made illegal while 15 per cent of the 25 and 34 age bracket – arguably the more tech-savvy demographic – strongly disagreed such action was necessary. For some reason, respondents from the South West of England were most likely to vote in favour of criminalising headphone use in the car.
“While not strictly illegal, using headphones is probably even worse than playing loud music in your car, as well as the music being distracting, the headphones work like earplugs and block out the noises from the road around you,” ContractHireAndLeasing.com marketing manager Richard Lawton explained. “That could be the screech of tyres, warning you of a potential collision, or the sirens of an emergency vehicle trying to get past.”
“We would like to see the government bring in a clear ban as an unnecessary risk is being taken when drivers plug-in and drive,” he added.
At the moment, UK law stipulates that using headphones behind the wheel is legal but rule 148 of the Highway Code does make things a little less black and white, stating that drivers should “avoid distractions when driving or riding,” distractions being loud music, smoking, arguing with passengers, inserting a cassette or CD, tuning a radio or eating and drinking.
While we can agree being able to hear our surroundings when driving is incredibly useful, is the use of headphones any worse than blasting music via a loud car stereo? Let’s also not forget many cars offer high levels of sound insulation and some even boast active-noise cancellation to make your journey even quieter. If hearing is so important, should hearing-impaired drivers be deemed dangerous and removed from the road?
We’re all for road safety but surely if we’re all keeping tabs on our mirrors and driving sensibly then surely the use of headphones is irrelevant? Is a ban necessary? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.