Don’t Wear Headphones And Drive Says Report

Thu 27th May 2021

Motorists and cyclists are being warned that wearing headphones whilst driving could slow reaction times by four seconds.

Research by Ford Europe looked at 2,000 road users from five different European countries and placed them in an immersive virtual street before measuring their reaction times in hazardous situations.

Ford’s experiment showcased the company’s ‘8D’ spatial sound experience, which can place people in a soundscape and hear highly realistic sounds, such as emergency services. The project looked at reaction times with music playing and without, finding that participants were 4.2 seconds slower to identify hazards when music was playing.

The results of the study had an immediate impact on those who participated, with 44 per cent saying they would not wear headphones will driving or riding, before taking part, this rose to 58 per cent who said they would never wear them again after the experiment. 

Dr Maria Chait, Professor of auditory cognitive neuroscience at University College London, said: “Sound plays a vital role in our ability to understand our environment – we very often hear important events happening around us before we see them.


“While headphones can be beneficial to us in many circumstances, on the road they can block out important sound cues, meaning we might not be able to perceive nearby vehicles or road users, potentially putting them – and us – in danger.”


Ford Europe’s senior Manager of brand communications and content development, Emmanuel Lubrani, added: “With this research we are highlighting an important road safety issue that often goes under the radar.


“Accessible to anybody with a smartphone, we hope that our Share The Road: Safe and Sound experience will raise awareness of the reality of wearing headphones while on the move.”