Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Studies show that certain genres of music might best be avoided by some people in the car. Switch your ACDC, Guns ‘n Roses and 50 Cent for Nora Jones or Sarah McLachlan and you could be an instantly safer and better driver.

“The music you listen to can have a profound effect on your mood, which can affect your driving. The harder and louder, the more likely you might be to speed, be aggressive or become distracted,” says Bradley Du Chenne, Senior Executive of Dial Direct Insurance.

A recent study by, a Canadian online comparison site for insurance and other financial tools, has shown that certain types of music make drivers more likely to get speeding tickets or be charged with more serious offences, like reckless driving and driving under the influence.

Anything fast, hard and angry is transferred to drivers’ behaviour, making them more likely to speed, while calmer, softer music has the opposite effect. People who enjoy a bit of heavy metal on the road for instance are more likely to be pulled over for speeding. Close to 50% of heavy metal listeners in the survey reported having between one and three speeding fines compared to 40% of the rest of the respondents.

With this in mind, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” or “Master of Puppets” might not be the ideal songs to add to your driving playlist if getting a speeding fine is not on your list of things to do for the day.

On the opposite end of the continuum are the folk music listeners. The study found that almost of half of them had never received a speeding ticket at all. So, if you want to stay calm behind the wheel, think Joni Mitchell!

When it comes to more serious driving offences, such as reckless driving, 6% of hip hop listeners and 4% of heavy metal listeners had faced charges.

Interestingly, a study conducted by UK online insurance aggregator site,, found that the most dangerous song to drive to is pop outfit, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Hey Mamma”. In close second is Fall Out Boy’s “Dead on Arrival” and third is “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.

A female participant in that study who listened to a hip-hop playlist in her car drove far more aggressively than any other driver. This included faster acceleration and last-minute braking. While the classics might have a calming effect on some people, both a male and female driver who listened to classical music drove more erratically than when they weren’t listening to any music at all.

A London University psychologist Dr. Simon Moore analysed the results and found that noisy, upbeat music that increases heart rate can lead to faster, more aggressive or erratic driving. He also found that when people listen to music they don’t like, it can cause stress which impacts negatively on driving. According to him, the optimum tempo of a song for safe driving should mimic the human heartbeat which is around 60 to 80 beats per minute. “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones and “Tiny Dancer” are good driving songs.

Du Chenne concludes: “It is important to understand that the music you listen impacts your mood. Some people are more sensitive to loud and fast music. If you feel yourself getting testy in traffic or find you’re being a bit heavy on the metal, switch to something less frenetic and see if it makes a difference.

“Certainly, music can help you stay focused on long road trips and keep you from raging about the stagnant traffic in front of you. So, listening to music can work in your favour. However, if you find your pulse starting to race, your foot getting heavier on the accelerator or you find yourself closing your eyes as you sing along, then it’s not. Choose your driving playlist mindfully and don’t listen to your music at such a volume that you can’t hear or focus on what is going on around you.”

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