Is Playing Loud Music In Car Illegal In India?

Open roads, engine burning, the wind blowing and playing the favorite music at loud seems like a perfect ride isn’t it? At least that’s what our cinemas portray right, but the reality is far different than what is designed to be perfect. Let us admit that we all love to play on our favorite music when we go on a drive. It gives us a sense of freedom and at the same time, we enjoy it as well.

However, we need to understand the whole equation here. Playing music in the car is not illegal per se, but when your volume up the music it may create a problem. Playing out loud music while driving at times can be very dangerous, it increases the chance of driving irresponsibly and one might end up in a car accident.

Legality Behind It

While it is not illegal to play music in a car in India, but loud music can serve a problem. As per the section 190 (2) of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988[1], it has been stated that a person who drives a motor vehicle in a public place in violation of the prescribed standards in relation to the road safety, control of noise and air pollution, shall be charged with a fine of one thousand for the first offence and with a fine of two thousand for the second and subsequent offense. The same fine amount has been amended it the recent Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019[2] for the imprisonment up to three months, or with a fine of ten thousand, or with both (first offence), similarly for the imprisonment up to six months, or with a fine of ten thousand, or with both (second and subsequent offence).

Not only Motor Vehicle’s Act, but playing loud music in the car can also be dealt under IPC section 268[3] wherein a person can be charged for public nuisance, as loud music emitting from the car can cause annoyance to the fellow passengers of nearby vehicles, pedestrians and disrupts the ambiance of silent zones.[4]

If try to look into the details of the matter, no one can ever imagine the intensity of offences one can be charged for such trivial matter. The time we woke up to reality and realize the great loss our country is suffering in terms of road accidents is damaging. India is ranked number one in terms of road accidents.[5] The primary cause is of course the poor infrastructure of most of the roads but apart from this, there are other factors which are also contributing to the number count of road accidents, one being the playing of loud music while driving.

Music And Its Aftermath

There is a report which shows that playing music at loud can affect your driving performance. A study conducted in Ben-Gurion University, Israel[6], to investigate the effects of different types of music on the driving performance of 85 young novice drivers. The study was conducted in three stages; wherein each driver in the first stage went on a trip with his/her preferred music (a playlist of their own); secondly on a trip with calming music (just lyrics with a slow tempo and low volume); and lastly on a trip with complete no music. The outcome of this study was a two-way swing. The young drivers preferred to drive with their own custom playlist which made them positive and were able to enjoy more while driving. However, at the same time, their driving performance worsened with their preferred music, including making more errors and traffic violations. A series of strange aggressive driving behaviour was also seen among these novice drivers. Experts are of the opinion that loud music is the cause of their increased risk for distraction. During the study, it was also observed that the drivers drove much safer when they listened to calm music or no music at all. So it may be concluded that when the music plays loud, it lowers your chances of being alert to a road emergency and also the driver’s reaction time decreases, that means the attention that driver should give on road is somehow divided between the music that is been played therefore there are high-end chances to end up into a car accident.

However this doesn’t mean you should not play music at all, but while undergoing a task of driving one needs to stay focused, have situational awareness and should be able to make attentive decisions.

Stop Accidents Before They Stop You-

Not under any jurisdiction, listening to music is illegal. But when the music is so loud that it prevents you from hearing any sirens from other fellow vehicles, you are definitely putting your life at stake. There are various factors that sum up to the driver’s distraction, music alone cannot do much harm, but when we take into consideration the volume, the type of music that has been played, it becomes a genuine concern. Also a word of advice to all the new drivers, music is not going anywhere, you can pause your music until you are fully comfortable with all the driving arrangements. Being able to drive is a beautiful talent, it comes with a bundle of responsibilities, own up to those responsibilities, and drive safe.

~Your safety is our only concern 🙂

[1]  190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

[2] 72(2) of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019.

[3]  268 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

[4]  3 Schedule of the  Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.

[5] India ranks first in road deaths in the world, The Economics Time, (December 28, 2016, 18:19 IST)

[6] Brodsky W, Slor Z. Background Music as a Risk Factor for Distraction Among Young-Novice

Drivers. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2013 Oct, pp.382-93.

This Article is Written by Anushka Fuke, Student of 1st year, B.A.LL.B at Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai.

Also Read – What is Illegal to Watch on the Internet in India?

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