, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 10, 2012

Keep one ear free

Campaign targets headphone-, earbud-wearing drivers


Had he not been responding to an emergency call, Hanshaw said he would have pulled the driver over and charged him with impeded driving, the officer said.

“It’s a huge impediment and that’s what the charge is,” Hanshaw said.

Newburyport police Lt. Rick Siemasko echoed Hanshaw’s concerns, but added the problem also applies to those playing their car radios too loudly.

“They’re not in the moment, that’s the biggest problem we’ve seen,” Siemasko said.

First responders, including law enforcement and fire and rescue crews, use their emergency lights and sirens to safely navigate the roadways when responding to emergencies. During the day, flashing emergency lights may not be seen as easily as at night, and the only way for an operator to be warned of the emergency vehicle is from a siren, according to the state police.

Siemasko said he appreciated the state police and DOT’s push toward improving safety on the roads.

“Anything that addresses distracted driving is important,” Siemasko said.

Additionally, vehicles registered in Massachusetts are required to get a safety inspection and part of that inspection requires the horn to be in good working order. The horn, when properly used, is a safety signal device used to warn operators of possible collisions and hazards posed from other vehicles or objects in the roadway. Wearing headphones removes the effectiveness of those warnings, further leaving a driver oblivious to a dangerous situation.

“Frankly, there is no legitimate reason for an operator to be wearing both headphones while driving. The campaign is to inform the public that wearing both headphones or ‘ear buds’ is unnecessary and unlawful. This is a primary offense allowing police to stop and cite motorists when they’re observed to be wearing both pieces in their ears while operating a motor vehicle,” a state police official said.

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