The kind of music teens listen to while behind the wheel affects how they drive, according to a new study.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that teen drivers who listen to music from their own playlists commit a greater number of errors and miscalculations.
The study found that male drivers, in particular, make more frequent and serious mistakes when listening to their preferred music than their less aggressive, female counterparts.
For the study, published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers evaluated 85 young drivers. Accompanied by a researcher/driving instructor, the teens took six challenging 40-minute trips.
During two of the trips they listened to music from their own playlists. Two of the trips were conducted with no music, while another two were conducted with background music designed to increase driver safety, such as easy listening, soft rock, and light jazz, the researchers report.
The study was conducted by the university’s Director of Music Science Research Warren Brodsky, Ph.D., and researcher Zack Slor, who assessed distraction by measuring driver deficiencies, including 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, according to the study.
Nearly a third — 32 percent — required a sudden verbal warning or command for action, while 20 percent needed an assisted steering or braking maneuver to prevent an imminent accident.
Errors included speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles and one-handed driving.
Without listening to music, 92 percent made errors. However, when driving with an alternative music background designed by Brodsky and Israeli composer Micha Kisner, deficient driving behaviors decreased by 20 percent, the researchers report.
“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 said.
“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,” he said.