When New Jersey residents consider things that can distract them while driving, they usually think of their cellphone and the other passengers in the vehicle. However, many people may be surprised to learn their car radio can also be a distraction.
Many people may immediately turn on the radio as soon as they get in their car. According to the Brain Injury Society, listening to music may affect a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road. One recent study found that some people change their driving habits when they listen to up-tempo music such as hip-hop and rock. Some drivers increased their speed and gave most of their attention to the radio. Another study reported that people take their eyes off the road longer when they try to find a song to listen to. This can increase a person’s chances of tailgating or drifting out of the lane. A third study reported that drivers who listen to their music at a high volume are more likely to tailgate and speed.
A driver’s age may determine whether he or she is distracted by the radio. The Association for Psychological Science says one study found that older drivers may be less likely to be distracted when they listen to music. There does not seem to be a noticeable change in driving behavior for experienced drivers, and in some situations, some adults may pay more attention to the road if they have the radio on. The reason for this might be that older drivers may become bored in some traffic situations and the music may help keep them alert.
However, the radio can be especially distracting for teenage drivers. Adolescents are more likely to weave in and out of lanes and speed when listening to music. Their driving may also become more aggressive. One researcher has suggested that music may be such a distraction for teenagers because they are still learning how to recognize road conditions and make decisions behind the wheel.
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