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NYC Headphone Ban

Why the Proposed NYC Ban on Headphones Might Not Be So Bad

A new proposal from New York City lawmakers would ban crossing a street while listening to headphones or talking on your cell phone. Walking, running, exercising — no matter what you're doing, no crossing traffic wearing headphones. Similar legislation is pending in Oregon and California, where some are hoping to ban cyclists from listening to headphones while riding. While the move may seem a bit extreme for New York, there's some merit in such a law. Supporters link the behavior to distracted driving, arguing that being distracted while walking or biking is just as dangerous as distracted driving. But is it fair to pass a law that essentially requires people to pay attention? That seems a little ridiculous . . . or does it?

Thing is, I might actually support such regulation. And before you call me crazy, hear me out after the break.

While living in New York, I was wearing a set of headphones while walking near a busy intersection. I was crossing a street with the walk signal when a car came barreling down the street — I didn't hear it because of my headphones. A man walking behind me pushed me out of the way of the car, which ran the red light (thankfully not hitting anyone or anything).

So while I see the case against regulating the use of headphones on the street, I'm also personally invested in the fact that, even if you are paying attention to traffic signals, not being able to hear your surroundings can be equally as dangerous. But is it not enough to rely on individuals' good judgment? Do we really need a law to tell us?

Image Source: Thinkstock
witchbaby witchbaby 6 years
Although, I don't live in NYC anymore I think this is stupid. I walked around plenty of times, looked both ways, payed attention to my surroundings and never got hit BUT I will say those bike messengers and delivery guys are crazy. zoom right out of any corner and they don't even have a horn or bell half the time. Those are the people that need a law.
devils devils 6 years
I'd hate this. I listen to head phones (mainly to block out some of the OBNOXIOUS noise from the city streets and subways), but still am responsible for my surroundings, and I pay very good attention. I'm sorry, if you're too stupid to look both ways, than maybe you shouldn't be walking around NYC alone.
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 6 years
Hell no we dont need a law. People need to be more responsible for their own lives. I'm from New York City and when im walking down the street I make sure that my music isnt so loud that I cant hear the traffic or even someone around me. I've never been so distracted by my music that i'm oblivious to everything going on around me. And yes I have experienced reckless drivers before.
Akasha Akasha 6 years
I have to agree with bethinabox, maybe a law against stupidity. If you are walking around with headphones up so loud that you can't hear anything but them, and you aren't paying then natural selection is bound to kick in.
bethinabox bethinabox 6 years
I totally understand why they would want to do this... But I don't necessarily support it. I know personally (though I don't live in NYC) love walking with my headphones in... and I'm always really careful about looking both ways even when I have a walk signal! People just need to be less stupid. Can we make THAT a law?
dannysf dannysf 6 years
As someone who walks an hour a day on the streets of San Francisco, this would very aversely affect my life. I'm very careful with headphones in and look both ways before I cross even one-way streets. I NEED my music!
carmenspace carmenspace 6 years
I can see the concern- but I feel like its a waste already limited resources.
SilverFang9899 SilverFang9899 6 years
Politicians sticking their noses into citizens' every day lives is the sign of a society in decay.
OriginalPoster OriginalPoster 6 years
People who are deaf are much better at paying attention to their surroundings than people who are wearing headphones or playing with/talking on their phones. But I don't think there should be a ban, even in NYC, purely for freedom's sake. You can't just outlaw stupidity.
angri angri 6 years
I think the idea is silly. For one thing, it's placing the responsibility squarely on the pedestrian instead of the operator of a giant blunt object. Does that seems backwards to anyone else? I can see a public awareness campaign to remind people to pay attention and use their other senses, as well as turning down the volume so they can still hear what's going on, but a ban on headphones is just a little too draconian. It also seems that, by the logic of the proposed law, crossing the street while being deaf would become a legal gray area! NOT COOL, New York. Try some more creative problem-solving.
kindo1313 kindo1313 6 years
I've had people walk right in front of my car without ever realizing that they were putting themselves in danger of being hit because they were wearing headphones and couldn't hear me. While a law seems a little silly, I can see why it's being proposed.
aniline aniline 6 years
I always look both ways before crossing the street - it's NYC, I just assume a cab or a delivery person on a bike is about to hit me regardless of right of way. heh. My headphones are also my only line of defense from constant sexual harassment on the street. I'd be an unhappy camper if I have to actually listen to what creepies are saying to me. The gestures usually give me enough of an indication, kthx. You'd think they'd just ban drunk idiots from crossing the street. I don't know how half the B&T kids get home after watching them navigate the streets on weekends.
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