A guide to safe driving while listening to music

In-car entertainment controls, volume being adjusted by hand.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

Music can be a distraction and affect your driving style. We provide tips on how you can listen to music safely while you drive.

We’re going to kick off this week’s blog with a question: ‘Do you listen to music in your car?’ If you do, is it because you fancy a bit of company? Or do you just like the adrenaline boost of a few bangin’ tunes* while you’re driving?

At this point, I should say that your friends at Safe Driving for Life are not trying to nab the details of your favourite bands for the office Spotify playlist; this is a serious question that can have a major impact on the quality and safety of your driving.

Driving beat

If you regularly listen to music in the car, have you noticed whether it has any effect on your driving style? The answer is that you probably have not. Like all potential distractions, music can become part of your daily driving routine. It’s only when *something happens* that you’re snapped into a state of awareness about the way that you’ve been driving.

OK, so you may well be asking: ‘What are these effects and what can I do about them?’ Here’s some interesting information taken from the pages of The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving:

Be aware of the type of music you listen to while driving. In general, research suggests that up-tempo beats can cause you to increase your acceleration and take more risks, while slower-paced music may improve your driving behaviour.

Wow! Who knew?!

To put this into perspective, imagine that your humble blog writer is driving along with the radio up loud. The songs are heavy, the rhythms are fast and furious (we’ll ignore, for now, that I am taking my grandmother to a church coffee morning). The music’s got hold of me and I am enjoying the thrill of moving at speed while listening to the pounding of the kick drum. The trouble is I’m overtaking other vehicles because I’m having such a good time. Normally I’d hang back and be content to follow the car in front. Dodgy overtaking can be pretty negative – it increases fuel consumption, is risky and makes little difference to journey times. So, not good. Of course, it’s not inevitable that I will start driving dangerously, but the boffins who investigate these things are sure that the risks increase the more up tempo the tracks become.

Stay sharp not flat

So, a little tip for y’all. Remember, I asked you at the top of the blog whether certain tunes get you going? Well, the next time you feel the urge to play them while you drive, try and make sure that you’re not so wrapped up in what you’re hearing that you forget your hazard perception skills. Play the music at a level that does not leave your ears ringing for days and remember that the most important thing to focus on when you’re behind the wheel is driving safely.

Oh, and although it might seem obvious, it’s worth repeating: if you do find yourself becoming distracted, then switch the music off and focus on the road.

Talking shop

If you want to learn more about distracted driving, then pop back to the Safe Driving for Life blog soon as we’ve got loads more top tips and advice to share with you. If you cannot wait that long then, never fear, a short trip over to our shop to grab a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving will give you the lowdown on this and many other essential topics.

See you next time!

Back to top