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Can I Wear Headphones While Riding a Bike?

No, under the current California Vehicle Code § 27400, you cannot wear headphones or earbuds in both ears while riding your bike. However, you are allowed to wear one earbud while riding your bike if you can hear what’s going on around you with the other ear. This may be a practical necessity for some people, such as bike couriers, to be able to get audio directions via mapping apps. You are allowed to ride with a speaker to listen to music, but if you’re riding around a lot of other people, don’t be that guy. It’s not illegal but it is a real vibe killer.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Now hear this, § 27400 does not apply to someone operating an authorized emergency vehicle, special construction equipment, or a garbage truck. Additionally, California allows people with hearing disabilities to wear hearing aids or earplugs so long as they can still hear emergency vehicle sirens and warnings.

What If I Decide to Wear Headphones Anyways?

If you are in a bike accident, whether with another bike, a car, or otherwise, you may have legal claims against another to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, injuries, and pain and suffering. However, if you are wearing headphones during the accident, you could be damaging your potential financial reward because California follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. What that means is you are compensated to the extent that another party was negligent. The amount of this party’s negligence is compared to and weighed against the negligence on your part. When it’s all said and done, you receive the percentage of compensation that is caused by the other party, but you do not receive compensation for the percentage of your negligence that was found to contribute to the cause of the accident. So, if a California state court initially awards you a $100,000 verdict but finds you 40% at fault for the accident (because you were distracted while wearing your headphones), you will only be awarded $60,000. The takeaway is don’t wear both headphones while riding your bike, Ever!


By riding in a paceline, cyclists can reduce wind drag by as much as 50%. Hiring a lawyer should work the same way, reducing friction and making your life easier.

If you’ve been injured on your bike and need legal help, I am here to work with you and take on the headwinds of your legal troubles. Let’s go further together. Reach out with a brief description of your legal issue and the best way to contact you. (510) 735-6804

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Paceline Law Bicycle Injury Lawyer represents bicycle accident victims throughout Northern California. Our team understands how difficult and challenging these accidents can be, particularly in this