Most of us like to listen to music when we drive. But there are some songs that should be avoided when behind the wheel, according to the results of a new study.
British price comparison website Confused.com found that different types of music affected motorists driving styles, with people tending to drive more aggressively, erratically or at faster speeds in response to different music genres.
During the experiment, drivers were asked to drive 500 miles (about 800km) – the first half of the drive without listening to music and the second half of the journey with music playing. During the drive, Confused.com used a mobile app – MotorMate – to monitor their driving styles; recording speed, acceleration and breaking to determine whether the addition of music affected their driving.
Ten most dangerous songs to drive to
According to researchers, The Black Eyed Peas’ 2004 hit Hey Mama topped the chart of dangerous driving songs used in the study. The following songs complete the top 10 most dangerous list:
- 'Hey Mama' – the Black Eyed Peas
- 'Dead on Arrival' – Fall Out Boy
- 'Paper Planes' – MIA
- 'Walkie Talkie Man' – Stereogram
- 'Paradise City' – Guns N’ Roses
- 'How You Remind Me' – Nickelback
- 'Hit the Road, Jack' – Ray Charles
- 'Get Rhythm' – Johnny Cash
- 'Heartless' – Kanye West
- 'Young, Wild and Free' – Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa (featuring Bruno Mars)
The female participants who listened to a hip-hop playlist drove far more aggressively than any other driver, the research showed. Meanwhile, a heavy metal playlist elicited some male drivers to drive at much faster speeds.
And while some may think classical music would be calming, the experiment showed that this isn’t always the case. Both male and female participants driving to a classical soundtrack drove more erratically than when they weren’t listening to music.
Reviewing footage of the motorists’ driving, London University psychologist Dr Simon Moore said: "Music that is noisy, upbeat and increases your heart rate is a deadly mix."
"Fast beats can cause excitement and arousal that can lead people to concentrate more on the music than on the road. In addition, a fast tempo can cause people to subconsciously speed up to match the beat of the song," he told Confused.com.
"Also, listening to music you don’t like can cause stress and distraction and this also negatively affects driving."
The optimum tempo of a song for safe driving should mimic the human heartbeat, he said. Songs such as Come Away with Me by Norah Jones, The Scientist by British band Coldplay and Tiny Dancer by Elton John would all fit the bill, the study found.
Dangerous driving could cost you
Aside from the potential safety risks, dangerous driving which results in an offence or loss of licence could hit motorists in the hip pocket, according to RateCity spokeswoman, Michelle Hutchison.
She said comprehensive car insurance providers generally won't directly penalise their customers for losing a few demerit points from speeding if your licence is intact. But that dangerous driving or loss of licence could double the excess.
That's because insurers can charge drivers extra or even refuse cover in some circumstances at their discretion, as car insurance is subject to underwriting based on a variety of risk factors.
"Many drivers may not realise that losing all of your points could impact the cost of your comprehensive car insurance for the next five years or longer, depending on your car insurance provider," she said.
Those most at risk of paying higher excess include drivers who have lost their licence or have restrictions because they are seen as being a greater risk to insure, and for more information contact your provider directly.