Distracted driving is a term that we have all heard, mostly associated with recent cell phone usage while driving. But another common distraction in the car is the radio. Whether your music choice is opera, country, or dance music, playing it so loud that you are oblivious to anything around you is a dangerous game to play.
Some town ordinances actually make it an offense to drive with your music blaring. If that sounds like something you do, you may want to check with your auto insurance provider to verify what kind of tickets affect your insurance.
The likelihood of a ticket for driving while playing loud music affecting your insurance is slim because it isn’t considered a moving violation, but do your homework if you like the speakers bumping.
Jam Sessions while Driving are Dangerous
Playing loud music in the car isn’t reserved for the younger generation. This activity isn’t new, but the style of music being blasted has changed. Pulling up to a stoplight and being able to feel the bass coming from another vehicle is annoying, especially if you can’t hear the music itself.
But if it is thumping to the sounds of your favorite group, it is a little more tolerable. So what is the harm in playing your music loudly while driving? Here are some of the reasons that loud music poses a distraction to drivers.
#1 – Searching for Music
We are all guilty of pulling our eyes off of the road briefly to switch radio stations. Maybe you play CDs in your car so you spend time fumbling in your CD case to find your favorite album while driving down the road. Both are examples of the distractions associated with searching for music.
No matter how convenient our music players become, they are still dangerous while operating a moving vehicle. You may have a simple car radio, or you may play music on Bluetooth from your cell phone. The way you play doesn’t matter since you still have to take your eyes off the road to search for songs that you want to hear.
According to Marc J Shuman of Shuamn Legal, “Young and new drivers are far more prone to distractions while driving such as music listening. Having the radio on in the car is one thing, but clicking through a playlist or changing the volume dial on the dashboard can be extremely dangerous.”
Despite this, most teen drivers play music while driving. This becomes more dangerous with young drivers because they aren’t as experienced and sometimes have a “Superman Complex” when it comes to driving. They think they’re invincible and that an accident surely won’t happen to them. However, statistics prove that isn’t the case.
In states like Georgia, teens are having the talk with parents about driving and how to do it safely. The “talk” has evolved through the decades and now includes warnings of playing music too loud while driving.
#2 – Daydreaming & Highway Hypnosis
Music is nostalgic. Certain songs may take you on a mind-trip back to a good experience in life. It is very easy to get caught up in memories or daydreams when those special songs come on.
Highway Hypnosis refers to checking out momentarily while driving. Drivers can become fixated on a certain spot in front of them and lose focus on the task of safely operating their motor vehicle. This can also occur at night when a driver becomes fixated on the yellow line.
There is nothing wrong with daydreaming as long as it isn’t happening while sitting in the driver’s seat of a moving vehicle. If you are listening to a song that is pulling you into memories of times gone by, turn down the volume.
#3 – Ignoring Emergency Vehicles
When an emergency vehicle like a fire truck or ambulance is responding to an emergency, chances are it is a life-threatening situation. If you can’t hear their sirens as they come up on your bumper, then there is a problem. Turn the radio down! Your loud music could stand in the way of a person receiving life-saving medical attention. Is that worth the risk?
Imagine a police officer trying to pull you over, but you are oblivious to his sirens and lights because you are caught up in your music. Explaining to the officer that you were listening to your favorite song isn’t an excuse that he will likely accept.
#4 – Swerving into Oncoming Traffic
While you may be confident in your driving abilities, there are thousands of other drivers on the road that may not be as skilled as you. So taking your eyes off of oncoming traffic to fiddle with your music is like playing a dangerous game of Chicken.
If your music is so loud that you can’t hear a car horn going off to signal potential danger, you may be distracted and could be at-fault if an accident occurs. Keep your volume low enough to hear oncoming traffic.
This is also important when coming up on train tracks and draw bridges that use noises and flashing lights to signal oncoming trains or boats. Be smart while you drive because listening to that one song at the highest volume your speakers will allow isn’t worth your life.
#5 – Dancing in Your Seat
Who doesn’t like dancing to a good song? We all do it. Some tap the steering wheel, some bob their heads to the beat, and some really get into it. Even when at a stoplight, rocking out to your favorite song is dangerous because you aren’t fully alert to your surroundings.
Try singing instead of dancing, and you will likely get the same enjoyment out of the music, only safer.
#6 – Familiar, Dangerous Playlists
Motorists who listen to their favorite playlist while driving are more likely to drive distracted. It is easier to get caught up in your favorite song than it is to get caught up in a song you don’t know.
There is no harm in playing music in the car. Most vehicles even come with a standard radio. When you’re driving, though, try playing a station that you aren’t as familiar with to see if it limits your distractions.
Combat Distracted Driving with Driver’s Ed
Driver’s education has changed over the years. Now it is common to take driver’s education courses online, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great option, but should never take the place of behind-the-wheel practice sessions. New drivers should all be taught the very real dangers of listening to loud music while driving.
Robyn Flint writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsurance101.com, and she is a licensed realtor with over seven years of experience helping buyers and sellers navigate the real estate market. Robyn is also a freelance writer and a published author.