Safety guide: listening to music while biking
One of the most commonly discussed issues on biker forums is the question of whether or not it’s acceptable to listen to music on the road. Long-haul journeys can be tedious, and in the absence of any other stimulation, a little music can be a welcome relief. But some drivers argue that it’s also a distracting risk that’s not worth taking.
Legally, there’s no reason why you can’t listen to music on your motorcycle in the UK, although this varies when you’re abroad. In some places you can only cover one ear at a time, and in others the practice is banned outright. It’s always worth taking the time to check before you hit the road. Bear in mind that driving without due care and attention is an offence itself, and that wearing earphones could be used as evidence that you weren’t giving your full attention to the road.
For your own safety and that of others, you should be able to enjoy total awareness of your surroundings at all times. This means your music shouldn’t drown out the sounds of the traffic or of your bike engine. You can now buy specially designed bike helmets where the speakers are mounted inside the helmet rather than going directly into or over your ears. As long as you keep the music at a reasonable volume, this should help you to maintain a better level of awareness.
It should go without saying that fumbling with an iPod while driving any kind of vehicle – especially a motorcycle – should be a big no-no. To make listening to music more convenient, you could look for a bike with a built-in sound system and handlebar-mounted controls, allowing you to adjust the volume and skip through songs without taking your eyes off the road. At the very least you should invest in a blue-tooth enabled helmet that allows you to mount your music source on the handlebars.
Common sense also comes into play when it comes to playing music on the road. On a long, relatively quiet drive a bit of music might keep you alert, but when driving in the city or during heavy traffic you need to have complete awareness in case something unexpected happens.
Finally, you need to consider what kind of driver you are. Everybody listens to music in a different way. If you find that blasting out your favourite tracks is causing you to unconsciously creep over the speed limit, or you realise you’re failing to notice potentially important things, then it’s time to turn off the tunes and focus on the matter at hand! Take a few test drives in safe, familiar areas and be very honest with yourself about how having music playing is affecting your driving and general awareness. A silent drive might not be the most exciting, but it’s certainly preferable to ending up in hospital, court or worse. If in doubt, pull your headphones out!
Read other biking tips and advice on Bennetts Insurance at www.bennetts.co.uk/motorbike-insurance/biking-tips