This chapter focusses on the setting of driving a car targeting those circumstances in which the additional exposure of background music might be counterproductive. As seen in Chapter 1, the automobile has become a vehicle of daily life, and car-audio has developed as an integral feature component of the machinery. So much so have the two become embedded in the social system of Western culture that cars-&-music have merged into a single subculture itself – one that is re-experienced on a daily basis as an iconic emblem of civilization – that is represented in the industries of theatre and film, the recording arts, video and computer gaming, as well as among all mass-media communications. Obviously, music itself is a personal experience. Nevertheless, as Chapter 2 underlined, listening to music as background for non-musical activities has occupied a more central position in our general everyday life, and certainly this has much to do with mobile technology that allows us to take preferred music along as if in an effort to control the soundtrack of life itself. Chapter 2 notes that different musics offer a range of effects to people in a host of situations and contexts, and yet while an wide array of reactions is expected, there are also clear commonalities depending on the stereotypical characteristics of the listener, the context, and the activity in which music is employed as a background. Since the turn of the millennium, the context and activity that has been consistently reported to be the most popular location in which people can (and do) engage in music listening, is while they are in a car. Chapter 3 accounts for the frequency of in-car listening and outlines the central beliefs of drivers worldwide that background music is as much a natural and fundamental constituent of driving as is accelerating, looking ahead, steering, and braking. Moreover, as pointed out in Chapter 3, there seem to be many benefits of driving with music. However, adding music to a milieu consisting of driver performance and vehicular control within a highly dynamic and potentially hazardous traffic-based road environment, may also have some shortcomings as far as personal safety is concerned. The consequences may even be fatal. With this as a backdrop, the current chapter looks at inattention and distraction, as well as the contribution of devices that provide drivers with the opportunity to engage in music listening including the radio, cassette tape player, CD player, and MP3 digital music players. Further, the chapter outlines four specific contraindications to the use of background music while driving. It should be pointed out that there is a very limited pool of information concerning the interaction of music and cars to begin with, while data concerning the subsequent effects of driving with music is even scarcer. Having said that, much can be gained with evidence that has surfaced from empirical investigations on mobile devices such as cell phones –
which in the end take up drivers’ attention, as they are also preoccupied with tasks secondary to driving. As with musical activity, the use of a cell phone also engages the driver in mechanical, perceptual, and cognitive processes, as well as in verbal activity. These may be executed when either alone in the cabin or when the driver is accompanied by other passengers.