Drivers have been warned they could face a £5,000 fine when listening to music or podcasts through headphones while behind the wheel.

While there is no specific law that prevents you from headphones while driving, it can be distracting.

One motoring expert has urged Brits to ditch the earpieces, which can also be used to make and receive phone calls, to avoid prosecution.

Graham Conway, from Select Car Leasing, said: “While modern cars come with impressive sound systems, plus in-built microphones and speakers, those driving older models might be tempted to use headphones instead.

“This could be for phone calls or to catch up on their favourite podcast while commuting or running errands.

“But not being able to hear what’s going on around you is incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons.

“It means you’re unaware of things such as emergency services sirens, beeping horns to warn of a potential issue and even cyclists or pedestrians close by.

“If you are stopped by the police for driving without due care and attention, you could be hit with three penalty points and an on-the-spot £100 fine.

“And if wearing headphones is deemed to have caused a more serious incident, that might mean a day in court, a financial penalty of up to £5,000, nine points on your licence and even a driving ban.”

Using headphones rather than an in-car sound system also means you’re more likely to be handling your mobile phone while driving - and this could lead to further trouble.

The Highway Code states: “It’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle.

“This means you must not use a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline.”

Penalties for flouting these rules include three penalty points and a fine of up to £1,000.

For younger drivers the punishment is even more serious as they could lose their licence.

The Highway Code rules also apply when stopped in a jam or at traffic lights - even if your car has an automatic engine switch-off system - and when supervising a learner driver.

Select Car Leasing’s Mr Conway added: “The skill of driving is one that uses a number of senses to anticipate what is happening on the road, and what could be about to happen.

“So cutting out hearing can make a huge impact on the ability to be fully aware of what is going on around you.

“Those who have held a licence for a few years learn to react to the warning signs, even if they are not obvious.

“Over-revving engines, reversing alarms and even shouting from fellow motorists or pedestrians are things that should tell you something is not quite right and give you enough time to take the necessary action.

“If you can’t hear them due to wearing headphones you are simply not safe on the roads.”