Q&A - Can I Wear Headphones While Driving?

Q&A ImageAre you allowed to wear headphones, earphones or earbuds while driving a vehicle in British Columbia?


In Some Circumstances, Yes.

The province has enacted legislation to control the use of electronic devices while driving by adding Part 3.1 - Use of Electronic Devices While Driving to the Motor Vehicle Act. The companion to the new legislation is The Use of Electronic Devices While Driving Regulation.

A headphone, earphone or earbud may only be used in one ear, and only if it is part of a hands free telephone function. Using it for a function other than hands free telephone if the device is capable of another function in addition to the telephone is prohibited.

The word "telephone" is not defined in the Act or Regulation, so the dictionary definition would apply. A telephone is an instrument that converts voice and other sound signals into a form that can be transmitted to remote locations and that receives and reconverts waves into sound signals.

There is a specific exemption from this part of the regulations for motorcycle riders:

Hands-free use of electronic device

7  (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person may use an electronic device in a hands-free telephone function while driving or operating a motor vehicle on a highway, if the device

(a) is installed in accordance with section 4 and within easy reach of the driver's seat, or worn securely on the person's body,

(b) is voice-activated or requires only one touch in order to initiate, accept or end a call, and

(c) in the case of a device that includes an earpiece, the earpiece is worn only in one ear.

(2) Subsection (1) (c) does not apply to a person who is driving or operating a motorcycle on a highway.

Motorcycle Intercoms

Most motorcycle intercoms do not actually sit in or touch the ear, but rather are mounted in a cavity within the helmet - leaving plenty of airspace between the speakers and the ears.  It's not an earpiece.  If it's mounted in a fashion that allows the mini speaker to touch the ear, it's actually very uncomfortable...  and in that case I would agree that it's dangerous.

However, mounted and used properly, a rider still has full audio awareness of their surroundings.


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