In countries like Saudi Arabia where the dangerous and fatal “sport” of drifting cars into crowds of people is considered a past-time, we wonder – can music be to be blame? According to a new study from Israel teens who are listening to their favorite songs while driving are more likely to make errors while driving. Males, are most at risk, the study points out.
The Ben Gurion University study looked at 85 young drivers accompanied by a researcher or driving instructor. Each driver took six challenging 40-minute trips; two with music from their own playlists; two with background music designed to increase driver safety (easy listening, soft rock, light jazz), and two additional trips without any music.
The study was conducted by BGU Director of Music Science Research Warren Brodsky and researcher Zack Slor to assess distraction by measuring driver deficiencies (miscalculation, inaccuracy, aggressiveness, and violations) as well as decreased vehicle performance.
When the teen drivers listened to their preferred music, virtually all (98 percent) demonstrated an average of three deficient driving behaviors in at least one of the trips.
Nearly a third of those (32 percent) required a a sudden verbal warning or command for action, and 20 percent needed an assisted steering or braking maneuver to prevent an imminent accident. These errors included speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles and one-handed driving.
Without any music, 92 percent of the young drivers made errors. However, when driving with an alternative music background designed by Brodsky and Israeli music composer Micha Kisner deficient driving behaviors decreased by 20 percent.
“Most drivers worldwide prefer to listen to music in a car and those between ages 16 to 30 choose driving to pop, rock, dance, hip-hop and rap,” Brodsky explains. “Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly – approximately 120 to 130 decibels.”
“Drivers in general are not aware that as they get drawn-in by a song, they move from an extra-personal space involving driving tasks, to a more personal space of active music listening.”
Image of teens driving from Shutterstock