Distracted driving is believed to cause 9 fatalities and 1,000 injuries every day in the US. Among the factors identified as linked to distracted driving are fatigue, daydreaming, engaging your attention with your passengers, attending to a child or a pet, attending to your phone, the navigation system and the radio.
The dangers of fumbling with the buttons or the touchscreen to select a song or music folder, turn up the volume, or change the station are considered distracted driving. It takes your attention away from the road, however briefly, it can make you a liability.
Still, if you find it hard to imagine your daily drive in silence, it is good to know different studies have come to differing conclusions. Some, unsurprisingly, find that loud music can distract you from driving, and that music can have an especially adverse effect on young, inexperienced drivers. What is more surprising perhaps is that there have also been indications that your favorite playlist may be more distracting than neutral music or no music, and that upbeat music, a favored choice for roadtrips short and long, is less appropriate than slower music that mimics the resting heart beat.
Not all results point in the same direction; however, a study at the Dutch University of Groningen found that talking on the cell or talking with passengers was a much more engaging and therefore risky situation than music. The same study also found that music, under the right conditions, can actually help you focus as a driver.
This study was done with experienced though young drivers who listened to familiar favorite music. Energetic and loud music was actually found to increase energy and arousal in the drivers, leading to better response times.
Since the testing was conducted using simulations rather than actual driving trips, it remains to see, perhaps in a larger-scale and more comprehensive study, how this would translate to real-world traffic situations http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606101550.htm
In the meantime, avoid activities that take your attention away from driving ? listen to your favorite station or playlist, but do not play the music too loud, and do not leave it until you are on the freeway to look for that CD or to find the folder you want to listen to. Plan and prepare. However insignificant such tasks may seem, completing them before you set off, may save your life.
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