Are Audiobooks distracting while driving?

If there were a way to combine audiobooks with something that I could listen too while swimming, I would pay just about anything for this service. That would be such a boon.

I find the radio more distracting, as I have a habit of changing the station constantly.
I don’t usually have any problems while driving; if I feel that I’m not paying attention to the story or I need to concentrate on driving a bit harder, I’ll shut it off.
I listen almost exclusively to children’s books. Less description, more plot, and I don’t have to make excuses when someone catches me! Of course, when the kids are actually with me, audiobooks cut way down on the fighting in the back seat.

Once, when I was highway driving at night, my audiobook (Motherless Brooklyn read by Steve Buscemi - brilliant, check it out) was getting to the exciting part. There was chasing, there were weapons, it was shaping up to be a gunfight, and all of a sudden I heard this enormously loud POW and CRACK! I almost drove off the road.

A passing semi kicked up a rock that left a crack the size of a quarter in my windshield. It scared me so bad I thought my heart would not start again. So, yes, they can be distracting, especially if circumstances conspire to give you a heart attack!

I just returned from a 7 hour trip this past sunday. I went by myself to visit my sick mom. The trip is boring straight up interstate 81.
I took two book’s on CD with me. And my trip went by very fast. It was funny to see a thread about this after I got back… Since my mom went off her rocker to find out I was listening to a book while I was driving… Saying how can you do both at the same time… Now not to embarrass myself, I will not go into detail about some of the very DUMB things I have done while driving. Becasue there are way to many of them, one that just recently happened as a matter of fact… Lets just say things have jumped out infront of me… :frowning:
But the whole time I was driving I paid very close attention to everything that was going on around me and I also remember everything I heard in the book. And they both were very good books… The one I didn’t get to finsh on my trip back so I had to check it out at the library.
So in the end… I beleive I drive better listening to a book then the radio. But then again… Maybe you just have to know me to understand…LoL :smiley:

I haven’t listened to an audiobook in a while, as the car I’m driving now only has an AM/FM radio in it. When I did have the capability of listening to tapes I used to love them for long trips. The didn’t distract me from the road while I was on the interstate, and, as a lot of other folks have mentioned, I didn’t play them while I was in regular ‘in-town’ traffic.

So I’d say for long trips, sure. In town, nope.

I should use them more. I do enjoy listening to them during long trips. I especially like short stories.

I agree that you have to be careful of the subject matter, though. I was listening to Into Thin Air, and during the part when all the really bad stuff was happening, I was all crying and shit. Not a good way to be driving. I really should have turned it off.

Oo! I’ve been wanting to read that book, too.

Does anyone know of a good source of information on which audiobooks are done by which performers? I’d love to be able to search by some favorite actors and see if they’ve done anything.

I started listening to the Lemony Snicket books entirely because of Tim Curry’s reading them. He has an incredible voice! (Unfortunately right now I’m bogged down in a few that are read by the author, and he sucks!)

2 weeks ago I was visiting my folks in B’Ham, Alabama. The drive back to Dallas, TX was 11 hours. I started listening to The Da Vinci Code which was 13 CDs, and each CD was about 1:15 long. I made it up to CD number 8 by the time I got home. The time and the miles went by so quickly I would find myself checking the speedometer to make sure I wasn’t speeding to bad (no cruise control in my truck, which usually makes the 11 hour drive pretty shitty).

After this experience I’m never going to make the drive again unless I have some audio books with me. It made the drive enjoyable and didn’t distract me.

Cal,

That’s the version of LOTR I had as well. It was great. I’ve read the books several times before, but they’ve never been as inspiring as listening to them. Didn’t need to bother with pronounciations. Someone read (sang) the poetry to me, so I didn’t need to slog through it.

I’ve been recommending them for a while on all those “I saw the movies and want to read the books” threads.

I listen to one almost every day to and from work. I actually think they keep me alert on boring roads.

The local library has a great selection, and I’ve gotten to listen to wonderful books that I’d have never read otherwise. I just grab 4 or 5 and finish the ones I like. It’s one of the better parts of my day.

Audible.com lets you do this. Just search on something you like. Both the author and the reader are linked to other titles they are connected with. Just click on the reader name. In addition, you should be able to search the reader’s name in your local library catalog and have the relevant books show up.

I took the suggestion of trying a children’s book, and got **Witch Child ** by Celia Rees from the library last night. So far so good, but I think I’ve somehow learned to gage driving speed on the music I listen to, so I have to pay more attention to the speedometer. How in the hell the two are linked, I’m not sure… It’ll work itself out once I’m used to it, I’m sure.

Thanks for the opinions! Now that I’ve tried it myself, I will encourage my brother’s interest in them as well, since he’s not any more distractable a driver than I am, at from what I’ve observed within the 4 years that he’s had his license.