Don't drive wearing headphones

Most folks in the MacBU have an iPod of one sort of another. In the last month or two I've gotten into countless discussions (well, OK, not countless, but more than one) with otherwise intelligent coworkers about the dangers of driving with headphones.

They tend to make arguments about headphones being no more distracting than the car's sound system, or they go down the smart aleck “should we stop the deaf from driving?” path.

I'm tired of this whole topic, but would like to point out some things:

  • It is illegal to drive with headphones in California, and apparently in most other states as well:
    • 27400.   ( )1 A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears
  • Deaf folks may in fact have worse driving records
  • Yes, I realize that not every law makes sense, and that no one obeys the speed limit, but this particular law makes lots of sense
  • Yes, I agree that people talking on their cell phones, reading the paper, applying makeup, shaving, or eating are also a danger, but that has nothing to do with this issue.
  • So please, go out and spend the few measly dollars on an adapter for your car. If you are as stingy as me, you can get a tape adapter for around a buck on e-bay. Or if you are really pig headed, at least pull one of the earplugs out. And spare me the sob story about the horrific sound degradation you will have to suffer. After all, your car isn’t a concert hall.
  • Interestingly, you can rat on unsafe California drivers if you want the DMV to reevaluate their ability to drive safely, but efore you get too excited about drowning your foes in complaints, you can't do it anonymously unless they are in your immediate family. On a closing tangent, I'd be interested to see the statistics about how many of these requests the DMV gets, and how they breakdown. While we are off on a tangent, I'd also like to know more about the smarmily-named 764-HERO program in Washington State which encourages folks to call in and snitch when they see carpool lane violations. On the one hand, I never cheat in the carpool lane, and my road rage boils away when I see people do it, but on the other hand I find the idea of encouraging citizens to snitch on each other deeply distasteful. There are some interesting stats from a few years ago at the official site linked above and in this newspaper article, which also explains that a call won’t result in anyone getting a ticket, but they don't tell you much about the effectiveness of the program. Oh well, one more thing to add to the "Look into when I've caught up on absolutely everything else, including but not limited to cleaning the garage, learning to play a musical instrument, reading all the books on my booklist, working through the netflix queue and catching up on sleep" file.