Yep, you heard it, the Transport Research Laboratory have carried out a study which reveals that listening to sport on the radio whilst driving affects drivers more than being drunk at the wheel.
The situation gets even worse, if you’ve any kind of emotional attachment such as supporting the team or player, or if you’ve had a bet on the result because in these cases, the research shows that drivers reaction times are 20% slower than normal and if you are traveling at 70mph, it means that it would take 6 metres longer in stopping distance.
To put this into some kind of perspective, the increase in your stopping distance is 10% further than it would be if you were driving with blood alcohol level at the maximum legal limit of 80mg/100ml.
The tests showed that incidents of hard braking were 50% more, suggesting drivers were not concentrating on the road, because of the distraction and they had to make late decisions to react to things on the road around them.
However, whilst drivers were aware that other distracting factors could effect their driving, such as having children in the car, or arguing, or being stressed, they definitely didn’t think listening to a sports commentary on the car radio would have any effect on them, although clearly this research shows it does impair their concentration and as such, makes them less safe and I guess, by association, more likely to have an accident.
So how were the tests carried out? They looked at 18 drivers, 9 women and 9 men, all aged between 25 to 45. They asked them, whilst they were driving, to listen to the commentary of 3 consecutive horse races and to get them involved, asked them to pick a horse for each race and gave them a reward of £1.50 for each horse which they picked that finished in the top 5. Simples!
It’s recommended for times that are really tense, such as a penalty shootout, that you find somewhere safe to park, that’s how seriously the Transport Research Laboratory is taking these results.
Fortunately, it would seem we don’t have too many exciting sports on radio in the UK, I mean who can get excited about, Cricket, Golf and Tennis and clearly, on the back of this research, the England team must have decided not to excite people listening to the match commentary in their cars and deliberately played poorly leaving the World Cup early “on safety grounds you know”
We have written articles on these web pages in the past about the possible distractions that can effect us when we drive and if you are interested, take a look, as it never hurts to be reminded that even what we think is everyday and is normal, can if we are unlucky, be responsible for us being involved in accidents.
One final point. I have never driven when I know I could possibly be even close to the legal limit and I am sure most of us are the same, but my perceptions of the detrimental effect on my driving at or around the legal limit were much more severe than they seem to be, and certainly worse than something as simple as listening to the radio (even sports radio) and whilst the calls are out there to reduce the allowable drink drive limit even further, is this just pointless, as it seems if something as everyday as listening to a footy match on Talk Sport can be worse, perhaps our legally allowable drink drive limit is already at an extremely low level and reducing it even further seems kind of pointless when so many other acceptable activities have a greater impact on safety.