Many people enjoy listening to music while driving. It helps keep them awake on long trips, and often improves their mood. However, could music negatively influence the way you drive? What styles of music are safer than others? Studies done on this topic have revealed that certain styles of music can have a major impact on your driving behaviors, potentially putting you at risk for an accident.
What the Studies Show
One study done in 2012 had 85 drivers complete a complicated driving course. The first time around, the drivers were allowed to listen to their favorite music. For the second time, the drivers listened to soft background music, and for the third time, the drivers listened to no music at all.
The results of this study showed that:
- 98% of drivers listening to their own music made mistakes
- 92% of drivers listening to no music made mistakes
- 77% of drivers who listened to soft rock and background music made mistakes
Thus, the researchers concluded that soft and relaxing music is the safest to listen to while driving. Why is this? Listening to your favorite music can actually distract you from driving. You might bob your head, sing out loud, or mimic playing an instrument while driving. While it might be fun, it puts you at risk for a crash because your focus isn’t on the road. Thus, when driving, it is best to listen to music that you enjoy, as long as it doesn’t distract you from the task at hand.
Another study focused on the effect that particular styles of music have on your driving habits. The researchers found that upbeat music, such as hip hop, dance, and heavy metal, caused drivers to become more reckless. Drivers tended to speed, or accelerate and brake abruptly while listening to these kinds of music. Scientific research has shown that upbeat or fast music increases a person’s heart rate and increases the production of adrenaline. Thus, these styles of music can have a dangerous impact on a person’s driving abilities. Classical music, with its changing tempos and irregular beats, also had an adverse effect on drivers’ safety.
However, the study revealed that music with a slow, steady, and calm beat increased the focus and safety of drivers. This ideal driving music keeps a person’s heart rate at a steady 60-80 beats per minute, according to Dr. Simon Moore of London University. This helps drivers stay relaxed and alert behind the wheel.
What Does This Mean for You?
In short, listening to upbeat, classical, or metallic rock music may put you at risk for an accident. Listening to music you don’t like can also distract you from driving. Thus, in order to increase your safety on the road, you should listen to calm and relaxing music that you enjoy. While rocking out to your favorite tunes in the car is fun, getting into an accident isn’t worth the risk.
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