By Fabian Hoberg (dpa)
“In which situations drivers can get carried away by music or follow a debate (on a social network) depends a lot on the route,” says Ulrich Chiellino, a psychologist specializing in traffic and road safety at the German automobile club ADAC.
“In a residential area, driving requires full concentration; on a highway with fluid traffic, drivers can let their minds wander, “adds the expert.
On long trips, he continues, the challenge is rather for the driver to find a balance between boredom and stress, both of which are detrimental to concentration.
To break the monotony, many drivers turn on the radio, talk on the phone or listen to podcasts. According to Chiellino, intense discussions or conversations about complex topics are less suitable for driving.
“When drivers are actively involved in something other than driving, their perception of the environment is reduced. Attention is diverted and the driver may take longer to regain control of driving in critical situations.
The psychologist believes that the fact of having to constantly interrupt the activities that are carried out in parallel to concentrate on the task of driving can also lead to a feeling of frustration.
Thomas Kiehl, a crime novel writer and moderator of the Clubhouse audio chat social network, thinks that in social media discussion rooms there is also another problem: “In Clubhouse, contributions to discussions are not much different from contributions on radio, audiobooks or podcast ”.
Kiehl points out that, when you are not actively participating in the discussion, the difference lies mainly in the handling of the application. Of course, this also applies to audio chat rooms within Twitter, the so-called Twitter Spaces.
The selection of the room is done, of course, in the application, as well as the “raise your hand” if you want to give your opinion in the virtual room. For this, it is necessary to handle the application.
“Therefore, drivers should set up Clubhouse before leaving, as if it were a radio station,” advises Kiehl. Those who want to have an opinion in a debate during the march, must stop the vehicle to operate the mobile.
To drivers who only listen, Kiehl recommends: “If you have the feeling that you have not understood a passage, you should not go back to play it again, nor do you wring your brain to understand it, since both disturb concentration while driving” .
Uwe Lenhart, a lawyer specializing in traffic and circulation legislation, also advises caution when handling mobile phones in the car: “The driver cannot pick up or hold the mobile phone with his hand.”
In addition, it notes that the switches of the vehicle’s multimedia system, including integrated applications, can only be pressed briefly.
Ideally, use voice control and read-aloud features, where available. Drivers can only use their mobile phone or other devices when the engine is off.
Regardless of what is heard while driving, the volume should not be too high.
“Playing the music too loud or wearing headphones in the vehicle creates artificial ‘hearing loss’ and impairs road safety,” explains Lenhart, adding that in these cases, a fundamental sense is missing to perceive the sounds that are important to evaluate traffic flows.
According to the lawyer, not listening to an oncoming emergency vehicle, be it police, fire or rescue services, can lead to an accident.
Violations can lead to a fine; An accident can lead to a claim for bodily injury caused by the negligence of the driver. From the point of view of insurance law, there may be joint or sole liability.
Even so, this expert in road legislation does not believe that listening to discussions and debates in virtual rooms restricts the driver’s attention.
Whether it’s music, interesting discussion topics, a report, an audiobook, the radio news, or an entertaining podcast – while they all trigger emotions, they are not detrimental to driving safety when only listened to.
On the contrary: “On long trips, a balanced selection of content increases concentration”, says the psychologist Chiellino. And there is something not to be forgotten: silence can also offer variety and relaxation in the car.