Music distracting you while parking? Here’s why!

distracting you while parking? Here’s why!Have you noticed this? Every time you attempt to swirl your car round the clumsy corner of a parking lot, your other hand automatically moves towards the radio to turn down the music volume. Well, you are not alone. It comes as an involuntary gesture.

Technologies are progressing in leaps and bounds, newer gadgets are developing every day and human beings are being trained to get faster and efficient in every aspect of life. Yet, when it comes to the matter of multi-tasking, which most individuals would claim to be immensely proficient at, studies show we can only multi-task to an extent where one activity does not necessarily interfere with the performance of the other activities. You may well boast of listening to music and solving crosswords or even racking your brains to get that tricky mathematical problem solved simultaneously. You may listen to your mother giving you advice while cooking or doing other household chores at the same time. You will even swish past several cars on the highway with loud music being played at the backdrop without even bothering to turn the volume low. But when it comes to executing things like parking the car in a parking area amidst a plethora of honking cars, vendors yelling and people crossing roads in a busy street, well, you cannot but resist your hands from turning the knob of the radio.

For one, your brain can multi-task, but to a certain extent. It cannot process two same neural stimuli at the same time properly which explains the fact that you cannot listen to a song and concentrate on a speech simultaneously. Although parking and listening to songs are completely different in terms of the resources involved, yet the action of parking in a crowded street or a narrow lane or in between two cars is a tough task, which needs a lot of maneuvering and coordination between your motor and sensory skills. The latter at such times cannot concentrate if loud music is being played as it distracts you and pushes your attention towards it rather than the activity which you are trying to focus on at the moment.

According to Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize for the book, “Thinking Fast and Slow” the action of parking needs a whole lot of concentration which in turn requires logical thinking. This robs you of your energy so much so that you involuntarily wish to cut down on other activities. He gives the example of walking fast while indulging in casual talk over phone or otherwise and walking slow while thinking about a grave calculation. Through this illustration Kahneman explains that more demanding tasks take away much of your energy and that leaves hardly any energy for undertaking even such involuntary tasks like walking. Hence, you automatically tend to walk slower when you are suddenly caught up in finding out an important contact number from your cell phone or trying to calculate something crucial.

That is to say, as also proposed by Arthur B. Markman of University of Texas, Austin, any task which requires planning in higher levels of your brain needs utmost concentration. Thus, you prefer to turn off your radio or at least keep the volume low when you need to plan just how to park your car in a busy area or a cumbersome parking lot. As pointed out by Russell A. Poldrack, Professor of Psychology at University of Stanford, when you turn the volume of the music low while parking the car, you are actually subconsciously giving the prefrontal cortex of your brain, which happens to be the cognitive sphere, the space and chance to focus on parking and not banging the car by getting too stressed or distracted by the loud music inside the vehicle.


To conclude, lowering the volume of the music while parking is not a negative thing in the least, and it does not prove you to be incapable of multi-tasking. It is a way to prioritize your tasks and also consciously trying to concentrate on the noise outside such as honking of horns or listening to the call of the traffic from inside a cozy, insulated car. It is just your way of being aware and responding to the stimuli that matters most at the moment. So keep up the habitual gesture, there is nothing wrong in it.

(Image Credits: Indiatimes)