Many people, especially younger drivers, use headphones or earbuds while operating a motor vehicle. However, doing so can be dangerous and may even cause a wreck in some situations. If you are involved in an earbud-related car accident, you need to understand the implications and know what steps to take next.
Can I Wear Headphones or Earbuds While I Drive in South Carolina?
It is legal to wear headphones or earbuds while driving in South Carolina. However, many other states have laws against it.
Wearing Headphones or Earbuds May Be Distracted Driving
In cases where earbuds or headphones cause a distraction, your actions may fall under distracted driving laws. Distracted driving is illegal in South Carolina. A person is guilty of distracted driving if they allow something to take their attention away from driving. This applies to physically taking hands off the steering wheel or eyes off the road as well as mental activities like listening to distracting music.
Further, pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-3890, it is illegal for anyone to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read text messages. Drivers must maintain a hands-free status while driving.
Dangers of Wearing Headphones and Earbuds While Driving
While there is no specific law prohibiting headset usage while driving in South Carolina, that does not mean you should do it. There are many risks involved with wearing earbuds and headphones while driving. It could be very dangerous and may even cause a crash.
Some dangers of listening to music, books, podcasts, or other noise on headphones and earbuds while driving include:
- You may not hear an emergency vehicle around you.
- You may not hear horns from other vehicles warning you.
- You may become distracted by the noises coming through the headphones.
- You will experience decreased situational awareness.
- You may have a slowed reaction time.
Thus, while using headsets during driving is not illegal, it can lead to violations of other traffic laws.
What Happens If Someone Causes an Accident Due to Headset Use?
If you’re involved in an accident with another driver who was wearing headphones or earbuds, you may be able to prove they were negligent. They may even be considered a reckless driver depending on the situation.
Negligence While Wearing Headphones and Earbuds in a Car
A driver who is wearing a headset and causes a car accident may be considered negligent. That would make them (or their car insurance company) liable for damages they cause.
To prove that someone is negligent for wearing headphones while driving, you must show:
- They had a legal duty
- They breached that legal duty
- Their breach caused the accident
- The accident resulted in your damages
While there is no legal duty to drive without earbuds, there is a legal duty to drive safely without distractions. If you can prove the at-fault driver was distracted due to the headset, then you can show they breached their legal duty as a driver in South Carolina. Then, you must show that the distracted driving caused your car accident, which led to your injuries and other damages.
What Should You Do After a Headset-Related Car Accident?
If you are in a car accident with someone who was wearing headphones or earbuds, it’s important to remain calm. Don’t immediately make accusations and get angry. Instead, call 911 and tell the responding police officer what you saw. Ask witnesses to report what they saw to the police also.
You should immediately get medical treatment for your car accident injuries. This is important to establish a baseline for the severity of your injuries. If you don’t get medical treatment, the insurance company will question whether you were really hurt.
Collect evidence at the scene if you’re able. That includes photos and videos of what happened, and everyone involved. If you’re able to take a picture of the headphones or earbuds, then do so as quickly as possible. Do not get heated or do anything that would put your own safety at risk.
Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you file an insurance claim and develop a statement that clearly explains that you saw the other driver wearing earbuds or headphones while driving. The other driver may try to deny their actions, so it’s important to tell everyone what you saw and collect as much evidence as possible.
Contact Attorney Venus Poe After a Crash
Attorney Venus Poe has extensive experience helping clients who have been involved in serious car accidents throughout South Carolina. She understands how frustrating and stressful the situation can be, especially when someone else is to blame.
Call our team of dedicated car accident lawyers for a consultation of your case: (864) 963-0310.