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Is Listening To The Radio Safe While Driving?

Dorathy Gass

According to recent research, those who driving while listening to a radio traffic report might not notice an elephant residing on the side of the road; further proving the overall idea that those who listen to the radio notes may be distracted while driving.

Presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in the UK by a research team at the University College Dublin, the study was organized to remind us all about the dangers of distracted driving. While many may feel confident to perform other tasks while driving, the truth is, your attention should, and must always remain on the road.

The research study had a goal in mind to see if hearing could affect sight, while driving. Using a driving stimulator, the study team assessed how a traffic report could impact a driver’s visual information.

Over 30 individuals participated in the research; with half being asked to listen closely when a traffic reporter’s voice changed from a man’s to a woman’s (low-load attention); and the other half were asked for specific road updates (high-load attention).

As participants rode along, researchers reviewed their driving, as well as throwing in visual surprises now and again, such as inserting a gorilla or elephant on the side of the road.

The results were surprising. Seventy-one percent of participants in the group labelled as ‘low-load’ noted the presence of an animal; while only 23 percent in the group labelled as ‘high-load’ saw the elephant, and the elephant only.

Overall, the researchers stated that the high-load group did not perform as well as the low-load, as it relates to remembering cars that had just passed, obeying yield signs, speed, reaction time, and lane position.

Medical News Today reported that the results certainly can make the average driver re-think turning on the radio for news, traffic, or even music; as this is a reality for most commuters, looking to fight traffic in a less grueling way.

Still, as the research was a small-scale one, with just 36 participants, it is important to note, that more research is needed, on a larger scale, to fully determine results.

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