Teenage drivers are more easily distracted when listening to “highly energetic” music of their own choosing, a new Israeli study shows.
The study, conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Director of Music Science Research Warren Brodsky and researcher Zack Slor, showed young drivers who listened to tunes from their own playlists were more prone to errors and miscalculations, males more so than females.
Each of the 85 novice drivers evaluated in the study, which was funded by the Israel National Road Safety Authority, was instructed to take six challenging 40-minute trips accompanied by a researcher. Two of the trips were conducted with music of the driver’s choosing playing in the background, two were conducted with easy-listening or soft music designed to enhance safety, and two were conducted without music at all.
During the first two trips, nearly all of the drivers – 98 percent – demonstrated three driving deficiencies on average, ranging from miscalculation and inaccuracy to aggressiveness, traffic violations, or dangerous behavior such as speeding, tailgating, one-handed driving, and careless lane switching.
They also exhibited decreased vehicle performance. Nearly a third of them, 32 percent, required sudden verbal warnings in order to avoid an accident, while 20 percent needed assistance steering or braking.
Even when driving without music, a very high percentage of the drivers made errors – 92 percent. When driving with specially-composed background music, however, the percentage of driving errors was 20 percent lower.
“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 explained. “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.”