A new study reveals that the dangers of distracted driving extend beyond using a cellphone to send texts or talk while behind the wheel.
According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, researchers have found that the songs drivers are listening to while behind the wheel can divert their attention away from the road. This study appears in an upcoming edition of the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
For the study, 85 Israeli teen drivers were accompanied by an experienced driving instructor and taken on a series of 40-minute road trips that presented different challenges to test how much the drivers were paying attention while driving. There were six road trips included in the study data. For two of them, the teen drivers were able to make their own music selection. For another two, more ambient background noise was chosen, and for the other two, no music was played, according to the Wall Street Journal report.
The study found that 98 percent of the drivers made an error behind the wheel when they were listening to their own music. Sometimes these errors prompted a verbal warning from the driving instructor accompanying them. In other instances, the instructor had to help the driver by correcting steering or actually applying the brakes. When no music was played, about 92 percent of the drivers in the study made a mistake. With the background music playing, about 77 percent of the drivers made an error, according to the report. Male drivers were more likely to commit a major error behind the wheel, the study researchers found.
Researchers started with the assumption — based on previous study data — that a music device in the vehicle is already providing a distraction. Smartphone users can look down at their devices to pick a song as much as they would to send a text, according to an abstract of the study.
Distracted Driving Takes On Many Forms
We’ve been reporting on the many forms of distracted driving and the dangers they pose on the roadways. More people are seriously injured or killed every year because of distracted driving. Most research to date has focused on the dangers of texting or using a cellphone while behind the wheel.
According to our previous accounts, in New York, particularly on Long Island, authorities are cracking down on distracted drivers and have begun enforcing some of the strictest laws in the country to deter drivers from using their cellphones when they’re behind the wheel.