Commuting to and from work can be boring. After all, if you regularly drive the same stretches of roadway, you have probably seen everything there is to see along your route. Not only may listening to music bring some interest to your drive, but it may also keep you alert.
A recent study suggests that a driver’s musical selection may affect his or her propensity to have an automobile accident. Accordingly, the next time you climb behind the wheel of your car, truck or SUV, you may want to think twice before tuning in to certain stations. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the middle of a potentially serious car accident.
The study’s design
Chinese researchers wanted to learn more about the effects music has on driver performance. Controlling for outside factors, such as workload and fatigue, researchers gathered a group of drivers and asked them to listen to different types of music. Then, they monitored each driver’s ability to respond to a variety of traffic patterns and road conditions.
The study’s findings
In general terms, researchers found a correlation between driving performance, the presence of music and musical genres. Specifically, drivers who listened to music that had more than 120 beats per minute performed worse in driving tests than a control group. That is, with fast-tempo tunes, drivers had difficulty both maintaining mental focus and responding to road hazards. They also experienced elevated heart rates and engaged in dangerous driving behaviors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions motorists against three types of distracted driving: visual, manual and mental. Clearly, based on research, listening to certain types of music constitutes as a mental distraction.
While there seems to be nothing inherently wrong with listening to music when you drive, you must understand how some genres of music may increase your chances of having a car accident. Therefore, the next time you drive, you may want to opt for a mellower musical selection.