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Your favorite music is dangerous when driving

Israeli researcher shows ‘irrefutably’ that playing the ‘wrong’ music in the car can get you killed, since concentration levels tend to decrease

A car radio, illustrative (YouTube screen capture)
A car radio, illustrative (YouTube screen capture)

We all know music can influence our mood. Whether it’s a fast-paced, beat-heavy rhythm, or a gentle and melancholy tune, the music we listen to can affect us deeply. But it turns that the “wrong” kind — the kind, that is, we like the most — can endanger our very lives while on the road.

Prof. Warren Brodsky, director of music psychology in the Department of the Arts at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, has studied the effects music can have on drivers, and returned with what he calls definitive results.

“The car is the only place in the world you can die just because you’re listening to the wrong kind of music,” he said Thursday.

While all drivers are aware of the dangers posed by distractions such as cellphones, and everyone knows driving under the influence is a life-threatening mistake, most people don’t think twice before switching on the radio in their car. Well, perhaps it’s time to do just that.

Warren Brodsky (Courtesy: AABGU)
Warren Brodsky (Courtesy: AABGU)

“Both novice and experienced drivers must be more aware of how music influences their driving behavior and vehicle control,” Brodsky said in a statement detailing his findings. “The research is irrefutable that listening to music in the car affects the way you drive.”

Brodsky’s research shows that concentration levels tend to decrease when a favorite song is on, with drivers often singing at the top of their voices, moving their body to the music and sometimes even playing imaginary instruments or clutching an invisible microphone. These can all have a detrimental effect on response time to on-road events.

He stressed that there’s no music that’s right or wrong for everyone, but that drivers must be aware of how certain types of music may affect them and avoid songs that cause distraction.

“Whether it’s Beethoven, Basie or Bieber is irrelevant. Ideally, drivers should choose tunes that do not trigger distracting thoughts, memories, emotions, or hand drumming along to the beat while driving,” he stated.

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