Do you generally get into the car and turn the radio on before you even pull out of the driveway? Do you just leave it on all of the time so that it starts up as soon as you start the car?
If so, you’re definitely not alone. The majority of drivers listen to something when they drive, and many of them choose music. Even if it’s not the radio, they may stream music from their phones through a Bluetooth connection or (in older cars) use CD players and tape decks.
But does that music have an impact on their ability to drive safely? Could it actually cause a car accident?
How fast are the songs you prefer?
Technically, anything that doesn’t contribute to driving is a distraction. This means that music is always a distraction to one degree or another. It can make it harder to hear traffic around you, and you may put mental energy into listening and singing along, rather than driving.
That said, studies have found that the largest increase in risk comes when songs are faster than 120 beats per minute. So the real question may just be how fast your music is. If you prefer many pop, rock, metal and punk bands, a lot of the music is over this rate, which has been shown to increase speeding, inattention and aggressive driving.
What if you turn the radio off?
Turning the radio off can make you a safer driver, but remember that most people around you still listen to music. If one of them hits you, you have to know about all of the legal options at your disposal.