For years, it has been a habit for most drivers across the nation to start their car and immediately turn on the radio or connect their devices to play music. Listening to music and driving seem to go hand in hand.
However, with the crackdowns on distractions behind the wheel, many people might wonder if listening to their favorite songs while driving is actually a distraction as well.
The answer depends on many factors
It is true that listening to music uses some brain power. However, most experts believe that listening to music or the radio at average volumes does not impact one’s ability to drive too much.
There are times it could be a distraction, though. While auditory distractions are not one of the main three categories of distracted driving outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they are still a matter of concern for many reasons. Listening to music might become a distraction if:
- The music is very loud or upbeat
- The driver and passengers get too engrossed in the music
- The driver listens to music they particularly like
For example, studies found that listening to loud music did affect drivers – especially young ones. Listening to music they liked at high volumes often led them to drive more recklessly and be more prone to distractions.
Actions related to listening to music can be distracting
It is also important to consider the other actions that are a part of the experience of listening to music. Even while driving, many people might:
- Look down at their phones to select a certain song
- Use dashboard or steering wheel controls to skip songs
- Sing along to songs enthusiastically
All of these could potentially distract drivers from the task at hand – more so than simply listening to music.
None of this is to say you should not play your favorite tunes while you travel. It is important to be aware of the potential distractions that could pull your attention away from driving and ensure you stay defensive on the road to reduce the risk of an accident.