Why Do People Turn Down the Car’s Radio When Looking for an Address?

Have you ever gotten to your destination, or close to, it and turned down the radio in order to look for an address or park the car? Don’t worry, we all do it. In fact, it’s almost tough to fathom not turning down the radio when trying to find an address or a parking spot. But why?

You turn down the radio so you can “see” better

Car radio meme
Car radio meme | Pinterest.com

You might have seen some Internet memes before that state “Turn down the radio so that you can ‘see’ better.” They’re a good laugh, but what’s even funnier is that everyone has done that at some point in their driving careers. Believe it or not, the memes are actually somewhat accurate.

According to Car Throttle, “it’s all about concentration.” But it’s also about being human. We humans can only do a finite amount of tasks at one time, so if you’re listening to music then your brain is paying attention to the sounds coming into your ears and has to process them. And if you have to add to that processing power by concentrating on another task, like finding an address, it can be difficult to do both at the same time.

How Stuff Works reported that multi-tasking increases our chances of error by up to 50 percent and even when we do try to multi-task, it doesn’t actually speed up the process either. Instead, multi-tasking can double the amount of time it takes to do each task. In that case, you can see why trying to look for an address could possible take longer if you’re distracted by music.

The human brain handles tasks sequentially, so when we think we’re multitasking, it’s actually our brains switching from one task to the next in nanoseconds.

The type of music that you’re listening to can make a difference

To complement the inherent difficulties of multi-tasking, the type of music that you’re listening to while trying to find that elusive house or parking spot can have an effect on your brain. A study by Allianz Insurance revealed that jazz and blues music is the most distracting to drivers while classical music is the least distracting.

This is why we can’t text and drive

A visitor in a car tunes her radio to the drive-in live broadcast of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
A visitor in a car tunes her radio to the drive-in live broadcast of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. | (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

With all of this evidence, we can see why turning your music down when looking for an address or parking spot is necessary. Our brains can really only handle one major task at a time, and when we introduce another task that requires the utmost concentration, it becomes sensory overload at the moment. This is also why talking on the phone, or texting while driving is a very bad idea.

So the next time you find yourself telling your passengers to be quiet when hunting for a spot to park in, remember to do yourself a favor by relaxing and doing one thing at a time. Doing so can not only help you accomplish the main task at hand, but it can even save lives. If not yours or your passengers, possibly someone else’s.

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