It is no coincidence that one of the first creatures comforts added to the humble automobile was the sound system. The ability to listen to music and conversation in the car has been an integral part of the driving experience. As vehicle “infotainment systems” become ever more complex, people still want access to a radio and whatever the current music storage system happens to be (tapes, CDS, MP3s, etc.).
Oddly, for as long as music has been part of the driving experience, there has been little study about its effects on driver behavior. Thankfully, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that listening to music can really impact driving habits and behaviors – for better and worse.
Soothing Feelings of Road Rage
Anger while driving is a common experience for many motorists. It is easy to become annoyed at other drivers on the road or even enraged about rude and dangerous maneuvers. Although we shouldn’t take it personally, some of us just have a really hard time letting go of frustration behind the wheel. If it is allowed to build, this anger can cause us to drive dangerously and aggressively, increasing the risk of an accident.
Thankfully, the right music can both soothe and distract angry drivers from what they are likely to get upset about. Classical music, soft pop music or something with a calm and steady flow can work wonders for a stressful commute.
Aggression and Dangerous Sound Levels
On the opposite end of the spectrum may be music genres like heavy metal and punk rock. In certain listeners, this music can actually promote aggressive driving and a sense of being out of control. Moreover, they are often played loudly enough (and contain enough distortion) to block out important road and traffic sounds. That can be dangerous – particularly when traffic is heavy.
Upbeat and Alert
In the car, most of us listen to what gets us feeling good – either a favorite radio station or our own music collection. The mood boost is nice in and of itself, but it may also improve our driving. When we respond to upbeat music, we feel more awake and alert, and are therefore better able to pay attention to our surroundings. Being in a better mood also makes us less likely to negatively respond to the perceived slights of other drivers.
The only caveat here is that the joy we feel at upbeat music needs to be contained. Some drivers truly “rock out” in the car, and that can be very distracting in its own right, increasing the risk of an accident.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
There are a wide array of factors that can impact driving performance, of which music is just one. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident that may have been caused by another driver’s negligence, please contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.