Study finds singing in the car has a negative impact on driving ability

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POSTED: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 5:04am

Singing in the car seems harmless enough, but a new study has some surprising findings.

It found singing along with the radio while driving has a serious effect on your driving abilities, and not in the ways you might think.

The Australian study finds singing behind the wheel makes driving seem more mentally demanding, and that makes it more difficult for most people to maintain their speed.

"Driving performance changes when you're listening to music and singing. You actually tend to slow down. You actually stay more centered in your lane. You become a little bit more careful," explains Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Scott Bea.

But singing also slightly reduces your reaction time, making you slower to respond to pedestrians or other hazards.

Psychologists say we subconsciously realize how distracting music can be.

When you're driving in hard rain or lots of snow, you tend to reach over and turn off the radio.

"That's smart and maybe as a culture we need to do that a little bit more," Dr. Bea says. "Particularly in driving conditions where there are lots of pedestrians, potential distractions, those sorts of things."  

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