New Study Reveals How Music Affects Driving Behavior

Want to lessen your chances of being involved in a vehicular accident?  If so, a new study suggests you should think carefully about the music you listen to while driving.  The study conducted by www.confused.com found that listening to certain types of music while behind the wheel may increase your chances of having an accident, and in some cases the findings might not be exactly what you might expect.

Researchers at the London Metropolitan University used the gps enabled MotorMate driving app to monitor music’s effect on the driving behaviors of four men and four women.  Participants in the study drove 250 miles without music to establish baseline results.  During and the next 250 miles of the test, they listened to a variety of musical styles, including heavy metal, hip-hop, country, classical, and jazz.

Psychologist Dr. Simon Moore said the study resulted in some interesting findings. “Fast beats can cause excitement and arousal that can lead people to concentrate more on the music than on the road,” said Moore.  Hard-rocking dance and hip-hop songs including The Black Eyed Peas’ “Hey Mama” and Fall Out Boy’s “Dead on Arrival” topped the list of most dangerous songs to listen to while driving.

Surprisingly, both male and female participants tended to drive more erratically when listening to classical music than when listening to no music.  This may have been more a matter of personal taste than the result of tempo. As Dr. Moore explained, “Listening to music you don’t like can cause stress and distraction and this also negatively affects driving.”

Regardless of the particular style or whether the music had lyrics or was instrumental music, researchers found that the safest driving tunes were those with a tempo of between 60 to 80 beats per minute, which is similar to the average human heart rate.  Moore said, “A fast tempo can cause people to subconsciously speed up to match the beat of the song.”  Listening to heavy metal music caused male participants to drive much faster and one female participant drove much more aggressively when listening to hip-hop songs.

Songs that promoted the safest driving behaviors included Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”, Nora Jones’ “Come Away With Me”, Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and “Karma Police” by Radiohead.

Do you find that your driving is affected by the music you listen to?  Does your mood reflect the music you’re listening to, or vice versa?  Leave a comment below.

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