The Music You Listen to While Behind the Wheel Affects How Safely You Drive

Researchers at the London Metropolitan University found that the music we listen to while behind the wheel has a significant effect on how safely we drive.

Used the MotorMate driving app, researchers studied the driving behaviors of four men and four women as they drove 500 miles.  During the first 250 mile leg of the trip, participants drove without listening to music.  During and the next 250 miles, participants listened to a wide range of styles, including classical, heavy metal, hip-hop, and country music.

According to London Metropolitan University psychologist and researcher Dr. Simon Moore, “Fast beats can cause excitement and arousal that can lead people to concentrate more on the music than on the road,” said Moore.  The Black Eyed Peas’ “Hey Mama” was identified as the most dangerous song to listen to while driving. Fall Out Boy’s “Dead on Arrival” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack” were also in the top-10 list of most dangerous songs to listen to while behind the wheel.

Male and female subjects drove more erratically when listening to classical music.  According to Dr. Moore, “Listening to music you don’t like can cause stress and distraction and this also negatively affects driving.”

Researchers found that the safest music to listen to while behind the wheel is music that has a tempo of between 60 to 80 beats per minute. Not surprisingly, this is about the same tempo as the average heart rate while resting.  Dr. Moore said, “A fast tempo can cause people to subconsciously speed up to match the beat of the song.”

Male participants in the study drove more aggressively when listening to heavy metal music and one female subject accelerated and broke harder while listening to a hip-hop playlist.

Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”, Nora Jones’ “Come Away With Me”, Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and “Karma Police” by Radiohead were among the safest songs to listen to while driving.

Researchers also concluded that song lyrics had very little, if any effect on driving behaviors among the subjects.

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