According to V C Section 27400 you can only use one earbud. The other ear has to be earbud free to hear all those wonderful sounds of our LA streets. You know, things like honking, cursing, screeching brakes from the person behind you running lines for an audition, or simply the insane guy on Western and Pico informing you his dog is Buddha. Yes, this man really exists.
Although I was a little bummed to learn about this earbud restriction since I am guilty of listening to “This Week in Startups” podcast as I drive around LA, I was happy to see that it also applies to motorcycle and bicycles too. We’ve all been driving down Santa Monica Blvd. only to have a bike dangerously weaving in and out of traffic oblivious of what’s going on around them because they can't hear how close they are to danger. I think it’s logical that if having one ear open makes sense for automobile drivers it should make even more sense for those on motorcycles and bicycles. I mean, if anyone needs to hear the flow of traffic I think it is those most likely to suffer a serious injury from the lack of information.
Believe it or not, I’ve even seen people driving in LA with Beats by Dre on their head. It should go without saying that this is illegal. Any headphones that cover both ears violates the California hands-free law in that you must have one ear clear from earbuds or headphones.