Distracted Cycling in Boston – Should There be More Regulation?

In the age of smartphones and hand-held devices, just about everyone knows the dangers of distracted driving. But what about distracted cycling? Several cities across the country have already banned cyclists from using hand-held devices, and multiple states have banned wearing earplugs or using headphones while riding. Contact a Boston Injury Attorney Today.

At first glance, the new laws seem to make sense. However, they are not without controversy. A distracted car or truck driver can crash into another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian, and the likelihood of serious injuries is quite high. The small size and weight of a bicycle, on the other hand, is not likely to injure another person if a distracted cyclist crashes. Advocates for the new law say it’s about more than just crashes. For example, a distracted cyclist can ride into oncoming traffic, causing a driver to swerve and crash into another vehicle, tree, or telephone pole.

New Bill May Prohibit Wearing Headphones While Riding in MA

Massachusetts state Rep. Steven Howitt has proposed a bill that would prohibit cyclists from wearing headphones.  “A biker could be cutting across an intersection, and an ambulance is coming through and he’s not hearing it if he’s playing music very loud,” he said. Howitt’s bill is currently pending in the Joint Transportation Committee.

Those opposed to laws prohibiting wearing headphones and earplugs, and using hand-held devices, say that it all comes down to common sense. It’s irresponsible to text while riding, and it’s equally irresponsible to wear headphones if they block all outside noise. However, there is no evidence that either form of distraction has resulted in serious injuries or fatalities. This makes cycling advocates question whether it makes sense to impose such laws and slap fines on cyclists.

Seven States Already Ban Headphones While Riding

There are currently at least seven states with specific laws against wearing earplugs or headphones while cycling. These are:



New York




Rhode Island

In Pennsylvania, laws restrict the use of headphones and earplugs while operating a vehicle. According to AAA, since Pennsylvania classifies bicycles as vehicles, the law likely applies to cyclists as well. Many other states have some variation of this law. For example, Delaware prohibits cyclists from wearing headphones or earplugs if they cover both ears. Maryland has a similar law, but makes an exception for bicycle paths.

In addition to the state bans, some cities have also banned the use of hand-held devices while cycling. These include Philadelphia, Chicago, and Bozeman, Montana.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Bike Injury Attorneys Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas for Nearly 50 Years

If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney without delay. Rapidly changing legislation surrounding distracted driving and distracted cycling has made lawsuits involving bicycle and auto accidents even more complicated than in the past. The legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP has extensive experience handling these types of accidents, and we pride ourselves on keeping up-to-date with changing laws and regulations. If you’ve been injured or sustained property damage in a cycling or motor vehicle accident, we can help. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other related expenses. Call Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation about your case.


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