Pandora, Spotify or iTunes are still increasingly popular channels for people to listen to music but when it comes to driving, radio is still in the fast lane.

A study done by Edison Research found that over half of Americans listen to the radio almost every time they get in their car and 86% listen to it at least some of the time.  Many drivers are still listening to CD’s in their car and even less are listening to some form of digital music like iPhones or MP3 players.


Car owners are not embracing digital audio.  Radio remains the most common way for people to keep up with new music at 75%.  Getting new music from friends and family is next with 66% and YouTube and Pandora are third and fourth with 59% and 48%.

Age 12-24 year olds are the most likely to use digital sources for music but many of them don’t drive as often.  Even among young people, 65% still use radio to stay up to date with new music.

One of the factors in why radio is still king has to do with its ubiquity and cost.  Currently, the average age of a vehicle is 11.4 years, which is the oldest ever.  Many cars on the road are not equipped with an auxiliary jack for an MP3 player or sometimes even a CD player. The iPhone was only launched 7 years ago and most of those cars were already on the road before then.  As more cars are built with stereos to connect with smartphones, digital music should become more popular on the road.

As a millennial, I should be listening to digital music or online radio in the car.  However, I have found it takes more of an effort to get into the car, start it, then turn on my online music app, pick a song or playlist, get it connected and press play.  In the same amount of time, I could have turned on my car, with the radio already playing, and driven at least five blocks away.  Changing songs on your iPhone or MP3 player can also be a huge distraction while driving as compared to easily changing the radio station.  The convenience and accessibility of radio is a factor that could be keeping it at the number one spot for drivers.