The Sound of Safety | Pros and Cons of Biking with Earbuds

In Georgia, it is legal for individuals to ride a bike while wearing headphones; however, there are pros and cons. On one hand, this activity may distract individuals from their surroundings, hindering them from hearing oncoming traffic and responding safely. Alternately, new innovations in headphone design may improve biker safety, supporting public need and safety concerns.

The Pros and the Case for Drivers, Riders and Pedestrians

Headphone opponents cite panoramic hearing as essential to bicycle safety regardless of whether one is on a trail or in rush hour on a city street. However, despite traditional wisdom, researchers have discovered that listening to music while biking is safer than previously thought.

In 2012, Dr. Katrina Jungnickel and Dr. Rachel Aldred conducted a study on urban cyclists, finding that bikers using headphones were just as engaged in their surroundings as non-headphone users. Further, the researchers discovered that the use of headphones simulated a “sensory strategy” for cyclists experiencing sensory overload on chaotic streets. In short, listening to music while biking improved safety and performance.

The argument that the inability to hear environmental sounds is a sufficient reason to ban bicycling with earbuds loses traction when you consider that deaf people are fully able to safely ride bicycles in traffic. People driving cars listen to music and converse, so if prohibiting headphones for cyclists, one would logically conclude that stereo systems should also be banned. Following that same line of reasoning, the use of smartphones and earbuds by pedestrians could also be declared illegal.

The Cons and a Bike and Car Accident Lawyer’s Advice

Bike and car accident attorneys cite client safety as primary when it comes to the use of headphones while cycling because it may distract individuals from full awareness of their surroundings.

Hearing the sounds of the environment in heavy traffic can help a cyclist react quickly. A horn, children’s voices, or an emergency vehicle siren are examples of events that headphones may prevent a biker from responding to safely. Additionally, hearing also allows you to detect problems your bike might have.

In 2014, a poll conducted by BBC found that almost 90% of people supported banning the use of headphones while biking. This was due to public perception of biker’s decreased environmental awareness while listening to music and the probability of distraction and collision.

Innovation in Headphone Design for Safer Bicycling

A transitional development for outdoor enthusiasts who use headphones is the Safe + Sound design. This model builds on a conductive hearing device designed by Beethoven who was deaf. By biting on a metal rod attached to his piano, the composer was able to effectively hear his own music. The Safe + Sound headphone works by playing acoustic waves on top of the bones in the ears, which are transmitted to the inner ear; skirting the sensitive eardrum. While this device works on any part of the body, it is most effective near the ear. In style and function, the invention looks like a regular pair of headphones, however, the standard bone-conducting pieces fit magnetically into the earphones.

Tips From an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer to Avoid Bike Accident Injury

  • Purchase headlights for day and night riding and a flashing rear light with reflectors
  • Install a bicycle horn or bell and use it when any car is near you.
  • Use side mirrors and ensure that they are correctly adjusted.
  • Avoid hugging the curb side while biking because there is no place to exit if a car veers close.
  • Ride your bicycle at a speed limit that allows coming to a complete stop quickly.
  • Use hand signals to alert drivers of other vehicles when making turns.
  • Don’t share lanes with a car or another bicycle.
  • Using one earbud to listen to music does not affect cycling performance.
  • Avoid talking on the phone while biking.
  • Use both hands to steer the bicycle, except when hand signaling. Don’t hang purses or bags from your arm.
  • Assume that other vehicles cannot see you.
  • Wear a helmet and bright or reflective clothing at all times.
  • Know and follow the local traffic laws.
  • If injured in a bicycle accident, speak with a personal injury lawyer prior to speaking with an insurance company.

Choose the Best Atlanta Bicycle Accident Attorney

Highly-charged emotional debate about cycling with earbuds is often stirred up by the media, and blaming the victim can be very upsetting when bike accidents occur; however, it is not known to what extent, if any, listening to music contributes to accidents; therefore, the facts of each cycling accident have to be absolutely established. The law firm of Earle Injury Attorneys is highly experienced in handling bicycle injury cases, and is able to help you and answer questions in regards to your claim. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, call Myrlin Earle at (770) 677-5700.

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