- When driving, it may be safer to listen to music on the radio rather than in an interview
A study shows that drivers who listen to voice-based radio instead of music have a higher risk of accidents.
Listening to stations such as BBC Radio Four and Talk Radio increases drivers’ chances of making mistakes behind the wheel.
Researchers found that volunteers drove too fast, veered out of their lane and often forgot to indicate when distracted by radio conversations.
Tuning music stations also increased the error rate, but to a much lesser extent.
More than two thirds of British drivers listen to the radio while driving.
However, it is unclear whether the type of broadcast makes a difference.
A study shows that drivers who listen to voice-based radio instead of music have a higher risk of accidents
Researchers found that volunteers drove too fast, veered out of their lane and often forgot to indicate when distracted by radio conversations
Experts from India’s National Institute of Technology recruited 64 young men and had them repeatedly complete a seven-mile drive in a built-up area using a driving simulator.
They were allowed to listen to a selection of their own favorite songs, a music-based radio station or were played conversation radio.
The results, published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, showed that more mistakes were made when drivers were distracted by what broadcasters were saying than by music.
Volunteers were more likely to exceed the speed limit when exiting a main road at an intersection, were more likely to cross solid white lines, and were more likely to forget to signal before switching from one lane to another.
Other errors included giving the wrong direction and failing to yield to oncoming traffic at an intersection.
In a report on their findings, the researchers said it was likely that processing the spoken word required more of the brain’s resources than listening to music – limiting its ability to concentrate on driving.
“Driving is a dynamic activity that takes place in a constantly changing environment and has implications for the safety of the driver and other road users,” they added.
“Listening to conversations is cognitively more demanding and may reduce available attentional resources that might otherwise have been available to driving.”