When you put the radio on while you’re driving, you probably tend to do it without thinking. This is something most of us will do on a daily basis after all and it’s not generally considered to be particularly harmful in any way.
Actually though, if you have the radio on when you’re driving, you might be surprised to learn that it can impact on your ability to drive safely in a number of ways. This isn’t always for the worse, but it’s certainly worth being aware of if you want to get the most from your driving and avoid the kind of music that might be particularly dangerous. Read on to find out how the radio can possibly impact on your driving.
Having the radio on a talking station is something that can be highly useful for long stints stuck in traffic, but if you need 100% concentration it can be a problem in many ways. Studies have shown that talking on the phone can significantly reduce reaction time because it ‘divides’ your attention, and the same is true for chatting to a passenger. It only makes sense then to presume that having the radio on, on a station that requires thought and active listening, could potentially have a similar effect.
Likewise another way that a talking radio station could be a problem is if you were to be using a satellite navigation unit. In this case, you may find that the loud talking combined with the instructions from the device makes it hard to filter out the relevant information and you could potentially miss the directions you needed.
Fortunately the majority of us don’t tend to listen to pod cast on our long journeys and will instead put on ‘driving music’ for those longer motorway stints. So what effect will this have? Well, turns out it’s a mixed bag…
On the one hand, rock music has an up-beat tempo often and it has been suggested that this could help drivers to stay alert and aware while driving. If you’re driving and you find yourself in danger of nodding off at any moment, then putting on some slightly aggressive rock music might be just what you need to wake back up (though further studies suggest that the most effective music is music that gradually increases in tempo rather than keeping it high consistently).
At the same time though, this angry music may well lead to more aggressive driving due to both the lyrics and the increased excitability. Obviously road rage means you’re more likely to get more points on your driving record, so this is something worth avoiding.
Classical music might be good for helping you to keep calm in a traffic jam as it has been shown to be able to lower blood pressure. However, if you are driving in the dark for long stretches, then Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is probably the last thing you need as it could be just enough to lull you to sleep.
Choose your music carefully then depending on your mood and your situation, but most importantly make sure to keep your eyes on the road and to only change stations when you’re stopped.
Samantha Brave is a blogger and creative writer with 4SafeDrivers.com, an online driving records company. Samantha is a proponent of defensive driving and often writes articles around this point.
Photo Credit: Doc Searls (CC BY-SA 2.0)