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Keeping Eyes and Ears on The Road

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Electronic highway signs around the state are now warning drivers that it’s illegal to drive with headphones on. They say, “Be Alert. No Headphones While Driving.”

For some these signs are meant to be a lesson, for others a reminder.

“You always drive with your music so why not your headphones,” said Springfield Technical Community College student, Jessica Vermette. ”

“I did not know it was illegal,” said Marissa Rodriguez from Longmeadow. “But I would never drive with headphones knowing it or not.”

State Police spokesman, Trooper Todd Nolan said there hasn’t been a sharp increase in headphone violations. But he said with changing technology such as smartphones, the risk of distraction is greater. He said headphones are especially dangerous when it comes to hearing emergency vehicles.

At night, though, it’s likely you’ll at least be able to see the flashing lights. During the day, the risk can be even greater because not only are you not able to hear the sirens, you also may not be able to see the lights.

Steve Brochu, Vice President of Operations at the AAA Pioneer Valley Driving School said it also puts the driver at risk if they can’t hear another car’s horn.

“We’ve been behind people or next to people and they’re texting or they’re distracted with mobile devices, either drifting in or out of lanes,” said Brochu. “And obviously as another motorist you’re concerned that they may cause an accident which you’re going to be involved in.”

The electronic sign also lets drivers know that it is legal to have an earbud in for cellphone use, but only one. This leaves the other ear able to listen to road conditions. And this is only for those 18 and over.

Driving with headphones is a primary offense which means you can be pulled over for that alone. The fine for the first offense is $35.

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