Just because a driver puts their phone away when behind the wheel doesn’t mean they are immune to distracted driving. There are numerous things beyond cellphones that have the potential to be distracting to drivers. One such thing is a car radio.

One possibly distracting activity a driver might do in relation to a car radio is adjust it, such as manually change the volume or station. Making such adjustments when driving could cause a driver to take their eyes from the road and their hands off of the wheel, which can create crash risks. Thus, a driver may want to leave the adjusting of the radio to their passengers when possible.

Also, there are ways in which listening to the radio could be distracting for a driver. As a recent study indicates, if a driver lets their mind get too focused on listening to something on the radio, it could hurt their focus on driving.

In the study, researchers from Ireland had a group of 36 individuals listen to a traffic report while performing driving tasks in a driving simulator. The researchers had some of the individuals listen for simple things when it came to the traffic report and others listen for more detailed things that required greater attention to detect.

During the driving simulation, some rather out-of-the ordinary things, such as a gorilla or an elephant, were displayed on the side of the road. The researchers found that the individuals who were listening for more complex things from the traffic report were much less likely to notice these visual anomalies than those who were just listening for simple things. Less than a quarter of those listening for complex things detected the visual anomalies, whereas over 70 percent of the individuals listening for simple things did.

Thus, it appears that very closely listening to something on the radio can draw away a driver’s attention away from the road. Bad things can happen when a driver’s attention isn’t fixed on driving.

Traffic reports aren’t the only thing a person might be tempted to listen to closely when driving. Other such things include sportscasts, newscasts and music.

It is critical for drivers here in Texas to be aware of the ways that different things in their car, including the radio, could be distracting to them and to avoid interacting with these things in a distracting way.