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Loud Music Affects Your Driver Reaction Time

It’s great to get out on the road, cruise and listen to your favourite beats, but how does that affect you reaction time, if at all?

We get it, you’re young, mobile and independent, so it makes sense you want to spread your wings and fly to the best soundtrack in your playlist. Great music can enhance your driving experience, and on longer trips can even break the monotony and help keep you alert. On the down-side though, driving in traffic while listening to ear-splittingly loud music can seriously impede your concentration and affect your reaction time if something goes wrong.

If you’re driving a car, van or truck, or riding a motorcycle, you’re at the controls of a machine. Like being in control of any machine, it’s important you’re able to hear how it’s running and to be aware of what’s happening around you. Extremely loud music blocks the sound of your vehicle’s engine as well as other external traffic sounds and noises, not to mention emergency vehicle alarms and sirens.

Not being able to hear what’s happening around you is one thing, but how does loud music affect your reaction time if something does happen? Well, on a sensory level, if all you can hear is loud music, any warning sounds won’t be heard, reducing your ability to react quickly in a safe way. If there is an emergency vehicle coming your way, or another driver is trying to warn you by using their car horn, you might not hear them, and fail to react in time.

Studies have shown that loud, upbeat music can significantly raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and slow reaction times in people by up to 20%. When you’re driving, a raised heart rate can also result in slower and more extreme reactions. If you’re immersed in the music, anything that interrupts this suddenly will be a surprise or a shock, just as it would be if you weren’t concentrating at all. In this situation, your reaction time won’t be fast, and when you do react, it will be more extreme, making it exceedingly dangerous.

If you love to wail out a tune while listening to a favourite track, it could be taking up even more valuable reaction time, especially if you’re belting one out while driving. If you’re caught in a vocal moment, it can give you a massive adrenalin rush, which in turn, clouds your judgement. It could even make you speed up without noticing.

Just remember, if you’re out driving, and feel in the mood for a tune, keep the volume down. It’s vital always to concentrate 100% while driving because you never know when you might have to react quickly and safely to avoid an accident.

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