Effects on Driving with Music
We’ve been listening to music on our drives since the first car radio was introduced in about 1930. What would we do without our music? But, in an age of distracted driving, should we reconsider the relationship between the two
Studies have been done on this subject throughout the years and the results vary considerably.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Study
The 85 drivers each took 6 challenging road trips for 40 minutes with an instructor. Music was played on 4 of the trips – 2 trips they played the driver’s playlist and the other 2 trips they played a mix of jazz, soft rock and easy. The last 2 trips had no music.
They found that 98% of the drivers made serious mistakes while listening to their playlists versus 92% who made similar mistakes without music. When listening to safe-driving music, there was a decrease in mistakes by 20%.
The researchers speculate that drivers listen more actively when they enjoy the music, which may cause them to pay less attention to the road.
The drivers in this study were between the ages of 19 and 25. They were asked to make playlists of their favorite songs and then drove on a simulated road for 30 minutes in monotonous traffic.
They found that the drivers had no trouble following the car ahead of them and they actually drove better than those who drove in silence. They said that the music seemed to enhance the drivers’ energy and alertness.
The study’s author did note that under stressful conditions, music might have a different effect.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Study
According to this study, technology is to blame when it comes to unsafe driving. Scrolling through playlists on your phone or MP3 players can definitely impair driving performances. When drivers search through over 500 songs on their devices, they look away from the road more often and for longer periods (over 2 seconds). This makes music more dangerous for the newer generation who has a hard enough time taking their hands off the road.
Based on conflicting data, little is known about the effect of music while driving. What is known is that we should use common sense while driving. Any device that causes you to glance away from the road should be avoided along with loud music that can cause you to miss sirens or horns. The only way to be truly safe is by keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.