You’re riding your bike down the road, listening to your favorite jams. As you enter an intersection, a car riding through the crossroad slams on the brakes and honks their horn at you. However, your music prevents you from hearing their warning, and you crash. Can you be held to blame?
Of course, many context-specific factors go into establishing fault in an accident—such as whether either driver was disobeying traffic rules, inebriated or driving recklessly. However, if you’re riding a bicycle while wearing headphones in Pennsylvania, the other driver may be able to make a case against you in the event of an accident.
Under section 3314 of Pennsylvania law, you’re not allowed to drive any vehicle while wearing headphones or earbuds in both ears. It is acceptable, however, to drive with such a device in only one ear. But what is a considered a “vehicle” in Pennsylvania?
The law defines a vehicle as any device that can be used to transport people or property on a highway—and not on rails or tracks. The argument could be made that a bicycle can be ridden on a highway, in which case a bicycle could be considered a vehicle.
Although the legal definition is somewhat open to interpretation, if the driver in the above example were able to convince a court that the definition of a vehicle applies to bicycles, then the cyclist’s use of headphones would be in violation of section 3314. In this case, it could increase the cyclist’s likelihood of being found at fault for the accident.