Laws Were Proposed in the 1930s to Ban the Car Radio Out of Fear of Distracted Drivers Causing Accidents

In 1930, laws were proposed in both Massachusetts and Missouri to ban radios in cars. Opponents argued that distracted drivers cause accidents and tuning the radio would take a driver’s attention away from the road. They also warned that music could lull drivers into sleep. Even the Auto Club of New York agreed, with 56% of people they polled deeming the car radio a “dangerous distraction.” Arguing the other side was the Radio Manufacturers Association, who pointed out that car radios could be used to warn drivers of inclement weather and bad road conditions, as well as keeping them awake when they got drowsy. The first car radio was introduced in 1922 by Chevrolet at a whopping $200 — that at a time when the price of cars averaged $300-$600. The proposals to ban car radios basically went nowhere.