Driving with Headphones: A Comprehensive Guide for Australian Drivers

Driving with Headphones: A Comprehensive Guide for Australian Drivers banner

If you drive an older car or simply don't care much for your car's stereo system, it's easy to understand why you might keep your headphones on when you jump into the car. We all have busy lives, and avoiding the hassle of plugging your phone in or dealing with a finicky media system can be appealing. However, the question remains: is it safe to drive with headphones on? Here's a breakdown of the rules and potential risks associated with driving with headphones in Australia.

Is It Legal to Drive with Headphones?

The legality of driving with headphones varies across Australian states and territories. While it is technically legal to drive with headphones, earphones, or earbuds in most jurisdictions, it's crucial to consider the potential safety risks and the specific regulations that apply.

New South Wales

In NSW, you can listen to music directly into your ears while driving, provided you don't violate NSW Road Rule 297 (1), which requires a driver to have proper control of the vehicle. If you’re caught not having control of your car, you could face three demerits and a $481 fine. In an active school zone, this increases to four demerits and a $603 fine. Using your phone to skip ads in your podcast without an appropriate cradle or mount could result in five demerits and a $481 fine.


In Victoria, while it’s not illegal to wear headphones while driving, authorities strongly advise against it. If you’re involved in an accident or found to be lacking proper control of your car, you could be prosecuted. Victoria Police emphasize that wearing headphones can significantly affect your ability to focus on driving.


Queensland’s rules mirror those of other states: it’s not illegal to wear headphones, but you must maintain control of your vehicle. If deemed out of control or driving carelessly, you could be fined up to $619 and receive three demerits.

Western Australia

WA allows driving with headphones, but you must maintain control of your vehicle. If your headphone use leads to a loss of control, you could be booked and fined.

South Australia

SA permits the use of headphones while driving, but under distracted driving legislation, driving without due care or attention can lead to court-imposed penalties of up to $2500.


In Tasmania, wearing headphones while driving is legal, but using a mobile phone for anything other than calls can result in a fine of $346 and three demerits. If headphone use causes a loss of control, you could be fined $173.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The ACT allows the use of headphones, earphones, or earbuds while driving, as long as you maintain control of your vehicle.

Northern Territory

In the NT, you can wear headphones while driving, but must not use your phone illegally and must maintain control of the car.

Safety Concerns

While driving with headphones is legal in most states, it’s important to consider the safety implications. Noise-cancelling headphones and loud music can prevent you from hearing important sounds such as emergency vehicle sirens, honking horns, or warnings from other road users. This lack of auditory awareness can delay your reaction times and increase the risk of accidents.

Common Sense and Safe Driving

Ultimately, the decision to drive with headphones should come down to common sense. If your headphones or earbuds distract you and limit your control over the vehicle, you are putting yourself and others at risk. For learner (L-plater) and provisional (P-plater) drivers, the rules generally prohibit the use of headphones or any audio-transmission device while driving.


While it is technically legal to drive with headphones in most Australian states, it's not always the safest choice. Consider the potential risks and prioritize maintaining full control of your vehicle. If you're a learner or provisional driver, avoid using headphones altogether to comply with the stricter regulations.

Remember, staying aware of your surroundings and being able to react quickly to changing situations is crucial for safe driving. For more driving tips and vehicle advice, visit Tynan Motors. Our team is here to help you stay informed and safe on the road.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory for the most up-to-date information on driving regulations.

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