Chances are, your musical tastes differ quite a bit from that of your teen. You may have played classical music or jazz for them in utero, but by the time they reach driving age, their preferences have undoubtedly made themselves known. And their choice of music can actually affect how well or how poorly they drive.
Teen Drivers Play Loud and Fast Music
An Israeli study found that teens who listen to their favorite music while driving are significantly more distracted. The methodology behind the study included trips with novice teen drivers, both male and female, with two trips involving music from the teens’ own playlists, two trips with background music designed by the researchers to increase driver safety, and two trips with no music at all.
Almost every driver in the study (98 percent) averaged three deficient driving behaviors when their own tunes were turned up (and the volume in the car hit a high of a whopping 100 decibels). The highly energetic and fast-paced music choices no doubt influenced behavior, distracting from safe driving skills. Of the distracted drivers, 32 percent of them needed a verbal warning or command to alter their poor driving behavior which most frequently included speeding, tailgating, careless lane changes, passing, and one-handed driving. What’s worse, 20 percent of drivers required assisted braking or steering from the accompanying researcher to prevent an auto accident from occurring.
Think about teen drivers in general – cranking their music, riding around with boisterous friends, driving at night, and, sadly, often driving under the influence. Michigan roads are not always safe, and teen drivers are one of the biggest contributors to auto accidents in Michigan.
Should You Turn Off the Music Completely?
Turns out, listening to some music while driving is actually better than none at all. Silent outings during this research study still resulted in 92 percent of drivers making errors. When driving while accompanied by the researchers’ musical selections – easy listening, light jazz, and soft rock music with modest rhythmic qualities and no vocal performances or lyrics – errors dropped by 20 percent. (Not that this kind of music is at all likely to make it onto your teen’s playlist.)
It’s safe to say that music certainly influences driving behavior, but it’s also new drivers in general who simply don’t have the experience and established reflexes to drive as carefully as Michigan roads demand. Males were also identified as more aggressive drivers and as the people who committed more deficient driving behaviors than females, regardless of the music that was playing.
Ultimately, drivers’ moods were significantly more positive when listening to their own music, but this good mood is also what partially contributes to the distracted driving. Being drawn in by a song takes people to a place of active music listening and away from a place of sharp driving awareness.
Music Leads to Distracted Driving
It’s not just music choice that impacts driving ability and contributes to Michigan auto accidents. Gone are the days of flipping a few channels on the FM radio looking for a Top 40 hit to keep you company while you drive. Satellite radio offers choices galore, and you can read the song title, artist, and more information – reading while driving, never a good idea. Changing CDs, plugging in smartphones and other equipment to play tunes – these are all activities that lead to serious distracted driving behaviors. And it’s not just teens who are susceptible – plenty of adults are distracted by shifting around music choices while driving their car.
Read more about teen-related auto accidents in Michigan