Younger Drivers Distracted by Music Says Australian Insurer NRMA

March 23, 2009

According to a study from Australian insurer NRMA, part of the Insurance Australia Group (IAG), younger drivers, who listen to music while at the wheel, are acting dangerously.

NRMA said its research “revealed almost one in two (44 per cent) drivers under 30 use iPods or MP3 players while driving, potentially distracting them from traffic conditions.

“Of most concern according to the insurer is that almost one in five young drivers (17 per cent) also use their headphones while driving – thereby reducing their chances of hearing surrounding traffic, horns and sirens.”

NRMA Insurance spokesperson John Hallal noted that drivers are likely to increase the risk of a collision when they combine driving with another task. “Drivers should always be alert to what is happening around them and by using headphones the driver is likely to be less aware of the surrounding traffic conditions,” he explained.

Hallal also said the increased interaction of iPods and MP3 players – where users scrolled through their music looking for specific songs and artists – could also prove a distraction while driving. “iPods and MP3 players can be different to simply listening to the radio or a CD as the increased interaction can take the driver’s attention away from what is happening on the road, and even if it is only for a split second, the consequences can be very serious.”

As most people are aware, iPods and MP3 players are most commonly used by young people while driving, with only 15 percent of those aged 30 to 39 using the technology, with the figure dropping to eight per cent for drivers aged over 40.

Hallal admitted that iPods and MP3 players would continue to be used by many drivers; however, he urged a common sense approach. “If you want to use iPods or MP3 players, it’s probably best to have your playlists sorted out before you get behind the wheel. By doing so, drivers won’t be choosing songs instead of focusing on what is happening on the road.”

He added that “under no circumstances should headphones be used – it is always best to play the music through the car speakers.”

Source: NRMA – http://www.nrma.com.au

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