Is music helpful or harmful when driving?

SERVING TEMECULA AND THE SAN DIEGO METRO

If you like to listen to music while driving, it is essential to understand more about how it affects your ability to drive safely. So if you ask whether your favorite song is helpful or harmful, the answer is, it depends.

It depends on two things – what you listen to and how loud you listen to it.

Volume matters

If you have been working from home and sharing that home with others, you may have experienced the following. Someone else is talking, playing music, using a power tool, or making noise in some other way. Eventually, at your wit’s end, you say, “Can you turn that down? I’m trying to concentrate.”

Driving also requires concentration, and loud music can interrupt that, even if you are the one setting the speakers. Music can also block out noises you need to hear, such as other vehicles and pedestrians.

Content matters

You’ve had a stressful day and need to relax. Compare what you listen to then, and how it makes you feel with the music you use to motivate you at the gym or to get you in the mood for a Saturday night on the town.

Now take any of those music choices and think about how wrong they would feel in a different situation. Few, if any, parents rock their babies to sleep to the sound of Metallica. Few, if any, gym-goers push themselves harder to Mazzy Star.

Select your music carefully when you drive. You want something that keeps you alert, not caresses you to sleep. Yet not something too high tempo that encourages you to drive like a Playstation street racer.

The wrong music can distract, induce sleep or increase aggression. If a driver crashes into you for no apparent reason, consider if their music choice played a role. Once you work out what they were listening to, you may understand their driving behavior.