State laws regarding loud music vary widely. Depending on where you live, driving with loud music may be illegal. For example, some states include loud music in their distracted driving laws. Other states give specific definitions for what counts as loud music and impose penalties. And some don’t have specific laws at all about loud music.
Why driving with loud music can be dangerous
Whether playing loud music in the car is illegal in your area, you should consider maintaining a reasonable volume for safety. Loud music can make it hard to hear horns, respond to emergency vehicle sirens, and navigate traffic. It’s the same reason that driving with headphones is generally illegal. Drivers need to hear what’s happening around them.
Playing loud music in the car makes it harder to hear vital traffic cues. Some studies have shown that driving with loud music may slow driver reaction times to stimuli in your peripheral vision — a real problem in traffic that could impact safety.
Can you get a ticket for playing music too loud?
In areas where driving with loud music is illegal, you could receive a ticket, but the fine is usually low. For example, Illinois state law sets a penalty of up to $50 for playing music that other people can hear more than 75 feet from the car. In places that issue tickets for playing music too loud, you can’t always be pulled over for loud music. In many states, driving with loud music alone isn’t enough to get you pulled over, which is like how seat belt laws work. If the police stop you for something else, they can also ticket you for your loud music, but they can’t pull you over based on loud music alone.
In Nevada, playing loud music is listed as a form of distracted driving. Violating these laws typically carries a heavier penalty and may be sufficient grounds for police to stop you. If your state bans loud music in the car as part of distracted driving laws, your loud music may have more serious implications than a simple ticket. Distracted driving violations could also affect your car insurance rate.
Even when states don’t classify loud music as distracted driving, they can still hit you with steep penalties. Georgia classifies playing music that others can hear 100 feet from the car as a misdemeanor. Check traffic laws in your area to see whether loud music in the car is considered a reason for police to stop you.
Safety tips for driving while listening to music
Keep a reasonable volume
You might not want to stop listening to music completely. Some studies have shown that music has beneficial effects, like helping drivers stay calm and avoid aggressive driving. Make sure your music isn’t too loud to hear what is happening around you.
Don’t adjust the dial while you drive
Consider making a driving playlist and putting it on before you take off. The less attention you pay to the road, the more you may fiddle with a device — even a built-in Bluetooth system with steering wheel controls.
Be especially careful about teen drivers
Studies show that music is a leading cause of accidents for young or inexperienced drivers. Having music on can be enough to get young drivers to tune out and stop paying attention to the road. If you’re concerned your teen is playing music too loud, teach them why it’s important to turn the music down. Learn more about the leading causes of teenage driving accidents and how to avoid them.