Headphones distract drivers


By Joanne Lee

Shannon Freese

Manufacturers pack so many additional things into cars these days allowing drivers to do almost anything while on the road. From basic radios and CD players to satellite and iPod hook-ups, auto manufacturers seem to incorporate distractions as one of their selling points, putting everything into the car as if they’re begging drivers to do something other than drive.
These days it’s even become trendy for people to wear headphones while they’re driving their cars when they should be focusing more on the road instead of what song is going to come up on shuffle next.
With so many extras built into the car, the driver adds more distraction by wearing headphones while driving. Wearing headphones when driving is dangerous, and law enforcement needs to take steps to prevent it from continuing.
Unlike a car’s stereo, headphones can cut off the majority of sound around the user in a more direct way. As a matter of fact, most headphones create a more solid sound by preventing outside noise from interfering with the music experience as opposed to the more filling sound the car’s stereo provides.
With little to no sound reaching drivers’ ears, emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks are harder to locate. The purpose of wailing sirens is so drivers on the roads can hear an emergency vehicle before they see it. I’m not saying that drivers shouldn’t listen to music. But while they’re jamming to Ke$ha, there’s probably some old lady 20 minutes away who fell and can’t get up.
Not only do headphones make it dangerous for the emergency vehicles and those they may be attempting to help, but they are also a danger to those who share the road every day. Wearing headphones while driving distracts the driver, and distractions are one of the most dangerous things that can happen on roadways.
According to www.distraction.gov, distractions caused 20 percent of car accidents that ended in injuries in 2009. In this nation, 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 involved distractions according to www.nhtsa.gov. When drivers tune into what’s playing through their ears, they have trouble focusing on the road. RBHS already has enough horn honking and close calls in the parking lot before school, after school and during lunch — surely the last thing the school needs is yet another reason to hate driving through the lot every day.
Despite this distraction’s deadly consequences, there is no law against it in Missouri. A law would help prevent distracted driving and the interference of emergency vehicles. In states like California and Michigan, laws keep drivers focused on the road without restricting all of the driver’s ability to utilize today’s technology. California law states drivers can have only one headphone in, therefore allowing things such as a phone’s hands-free options while preventing the driver from tuning out their surroundings with loud music.
Driving while wearing headphones is extremely dangerous, and the only way to prevent it is by creating a law to oppose it and punishing those drivers who do endanger others by doing it. Missourians need to raise awareness by bringing the problem to the people who can make a change such as lawmakers as well as the Missouri law enforcement in order to make sure this issue can be stopped as soon as possible. The last thing the United States needs right now is worse drivers.
By Shannon Freese