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Driving to the beat

Do you turn off the car radio when you get to your destination so that you can concentrate on parking properly? As much as the practice is made fun of among motoring circles, music has been proven to affect the driving style depending on genre, tempo and even volume.

Below is a list of interesting facts based on research by insurance companies and a 2013 study by London University on how music affects driving.

  Music is information that must be processed by the mind in addition to physical stimuli like temperature, speed and road surface whilst driving. Adding music to the mix only reduces the brain’s capacity to fully concentrate on driving.

  Drivers listening to up-tempo music, up to 120 beats per minute are twice as likely to miss red lights compared to drivers not listening to music.

However, driver’ heart rates remain stable when listening to music similar in speed to the human heart rate. Driving music should, therefore, ideally mimic the heartbeat, at 60-80 beats per minute.

  An increase in the volume of music increases the reaction time of the driver, regardless whether it is slow music, classical or hip-hop. Additionally, music in a major key induces an increase in heart rate and excitement, resulting in faster driving speed.

  All types of music, regardless of genre, volume or tempo make perceived speed to be up to 33 per cent lower than actual speed.

When it comes to genres, classical music listeners are the safest drivers, Jazz listeners are more likely to speed and oddly, female drivers become more aggressive when listening to hip-hop.

Hard Rock shows improved reaction times but listeners are more likely to be involved in a crash. Music with deep complex lyrics is more likely to impact negatively on driving style.

  According to the study, the absolute worst song to drive to is Hey Mama by the Black Eyed Peas. Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles, Dead On Arrival by Fall Out Boy and Paper Planes by MIA also make the list of worst songs to drive along to.

  Come Away with Me by Norah Jones was voted as the safest song to drive along to as well as anything by Cold Play.

This explains why matatus blaring thumping reggae and hip-hop are always driven aggressively compared to those without a sound system.

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