The Dangers of Driving With Loud Music in St. Louis
Ryan Bradley | July 25, 2023 | Car Accident
When driving in St. Louis, Missouri, there’s often nothing better than rolling your car windows down, turning the speakers up, and hitting the highway while you listen to your favorite tunes. You’re sober, you’re not looking at your phone, and your eyes are on the road — what could possibly go wrong?
The truth is, driving with loud music can be exceptionally dangerous — almost as dangerous as drinking or texting while driving. Driving with loud music playing can distract drivers and even decrease their reaction times, potentially leading to an car accident. While playing loud music while you’re driving can sound harmless, it can mean the difference between life and death.
The Legality of Driving With Loud Music in St. Louis, Missouri
The legality of driving while playing loud music is complicated and varies from city to city. There is no federal law specifically prohibiting driving with loud music, but certain counties and cities consider driving with loud music to be distracted driving.
Distracted driving is a traffic citation, which won’t garner you the same punishment as a misdemeanor or felony, but will likely cost you some cash.
The St. Louis Ordinance 67002 repealed Ordinance 50038 and enacted a new standard pertaining to motor vehicles and noise. This ordinance prohibits installing, possessing, or operating within a motor vehicle a device that produces a sound with a louder volume than is necessary for “convenient, normal hearing” for voluntary listeners in the vehicle.
Ordinance 67002 also contains an emergency clause and penalty provisions, including for fines and seizure/impoundment of vehicles for evidence.
While the wording of the law may seem vague — “convenient” and “normal” will vary across different individuals — most courts and law enforcement officers expect drivers to use their discretion to make a reasonable choice.
The Impact of Loud Music on a Driver’s Performance
The Journal of Science and Medicine published a study in 2021 on the impact of music volume on reaction time. The study found that higher music volumes result in slower reaction times in young people. This study also found that each slight volume increase negatively impacted drivers’ abilities to react to different stimuli.
This means that there’s no certain point when loud music is quiet enough to be safe. Positive impacts of music on stress and aggression notwithstanding, the safest option is to drive in silence.
Each small increase in sound detracts from a driver’s ability to react to stimuli. When it comes to driving with loud music playing, it’s important to remember that when you risk your own safety, you are also risking the safety of everyone around you.
Staying Safe on the Road
While driving with loud music playing in St. Louis can be dangerous, you don’t have to forego it entirely. Here are a few tips for keeping yourself and others safe while still enjoying the ride:
- Keep the Volume Down: If you can hear the words, the volume is likely high enough.
- Don’t Change the Song: Choose a playlist or album before you start driving so that you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
- Try Different Genres: Studies suggest that listening to the music you most enjoy is the most distracting, so consider expanding your horizons.
- Be Cautious if You Are a Young Driver: Young drivers are particularly susceptible to the distraction of loud music while driving.
By following these tips and keeping abreast of changing driving laws in St. Louis, Missouri, you can ensure that you keep yourself and your fellow drivers safe on the road.
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