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Can listening to a good song lead to distracted driving?

According to one study, the answer is a resounding Yes.

Driver distractions can come in many forms from those requiring physical participation such as eating and personal grooming to those that have a more passive, cognitive effect such as a cell phone conversation or listening to a podcast. Unfortunately, the more engaged you are mentally, the more likely you are to shift focus and attention from the task at hand to enjoying what you’re listening to.

A team of researchers designed a study that would carefully monitor novice male drivers and the impact different types of listening experiences have upon their safety. They studied 85 drivers who would each take six challenging 40-minute trips:

  • Two trips would include music from their own personal playlists
  • Two trips would include background music designed to foster driver safety
  • Two trips would not include music of any kind

On each trip, the young drivers were accompanied by a researcher/driving instructor who would monitor their attention and reaction time. The results were shocking.

While listening to music of their own choosing, nearly all the study participants (98%) exhibited an average of three deficient driving behaviors in at least one of the trips. 32% of those drivers required a sudden verbal warning or command for action from the instructor. Shockingly, 20% of the drivers needed an assisted steering or braking maneuver from the instructor to prevent an imminent accident.

During these trips, the recorded errors could include distance miscalculation, inaccuracy, aggressiveness and violations of traffic rules. The researchers/driving instructors were required to provide verbal or physical interaction when drivers exhibited behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, inappropriate passing and one-handed driving.

Distracted driving can lead to devastating collisions and catastrophic injuries. Vehicle occupants can suffer broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis and amputation. If you were in a collision caused by a negligent or inattentive driver, it is wise to explore your options for monetary compensation.

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