A study has found that listening to an iPod in the car is riskier than having the radio on.
Music-loving drivers are safer listening to the radio than having an iPod in the car, according to research.
Motorists are far less distracted by searching for a favourite radio station than they are by scrolling for a song from a playlist, it added.
Around nine in 10 new cars coming off the production line today have MP3 connectivity enabling drivers to play portable devices through their car stereos.
But the better the technology, the more distracting it is for the motorist as they take their eyes off the road to look for a particular song.
Tuning to a different radio station is also distracting but far less so, which means it is also much less dangerous, said ergonomics experts in the US.
Some in-car systems have bigger visual displays and steering wheel controls for MP3 players but these do not make it any less distracting for the driver, they found.
Researchers for The Journal of the Human and Ergonomics Society tested 50 motorists aged 18-25 using a driving simulator.
They were asked to negotiate various types of traffic patterns and road conditions while occasionally having to find a song from a playlist or tune into a particular radio station. John D Lee, from the society, reported that the longer the playlist, the more distracted they became.
Drivers look away more often and for longer when searching for a song from a playlist than when tuning the radio.
The study said: “A simple task of selecting a song from a list can seduce you into looking away from the road longer than you might have intended, and long looks away from the road can kill.”
In conclusion, operating a radio can be too much of a distraction for many of us. But the iPod is a definite no no!