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How does music affect your driving

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Everyone has a driving playlist. Some people may even have more than one, for different occasions, different moods and different times of the day. Whether it’s a selection of your favourites on your MP3 player, or a pile of CDs scattered around the dashboard, there’s little that compares to the feeling of an open road with your favourite song over the stereo. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it’s one of the most talked about and exciting parts of driving today, especially for younger drivers.

Background noise or centre stage?

For some, music in the car is just background noise and makes no real impact on the in-car environment beyond filling a silence. This is especially true for quieter and less abrasive genres of music. However, listening to music while driving has its downside; the biggest of these being the element of distraction that any sound in the car would bring. For some people, music on the road is more about engaging with the music through singing and - in some cases - even dancing, which go hand in hand with the buzz of being in control. This distraction obviously becomes dangerous for everyone on the road and it certainly becomes an issue when more attention is paid to the music than the driving.

Stay focused

However many scientific studies have been made into the effects of driving with music, and a large number have shown that music actually helps drivers to focus, especially on long roads. It is argued that it takes away the tedium of monotonous driving, which without attention could lead to frustration and boredom and be dangerous. It helps drivers remain alert and focused.

Even so, volume is an issue that is more important than you might expect. It is important that drivers are alert to all sounds, from car horns to pedestrian traffic signals. All modern cars come with a radio, a CD player or an MP3 port, so listening to music while driving is easily done, no matter what car you drive. However, in the event of a broken stereo or a forgotten CD, there’s always the option of wearing headphones and using a portable device, such as an MP3 player. Currently, there is no specific road law that says it is illegal to listen to music on headphones while driving, but it doesn’t come without its dangers. Even though there is no law to stop you doing so, the consequences in court are significantly higher if there is evidence of dangerous driving. Part of the Highway Code, section 148, points this out: “Safe driving and riding needs concentration. Avoid distractions when driving such as loud music, as this may mask other sounds.”

However if you’re cautious and aware of the volume of your music and the impact it can have on your driving, it shouldn’t have a dangerous or destructive effect.

published: 03/12/2013 12:53:33

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