There are an average of six million car accidents in the U.S. every year, and distraction was reported as a factor in nearly 1 in 5 crashes in which someone was injured. But distracted driving includes more than just using your cell phone. Could turning on the radio or plugging in a playlist also cause car accidents? Research into the topic shows some interesting results.
You may know that listening to music can improve your mood and lower your stress levels, and research backs this up. When traffic is bad enough to induce road rage in some people, turning on music may help prevent accidents caused by angry and upset drivers making mistakes they otherwise wouldn’t.
Listening to music can also be a huge benefit on long road trips. It increases your heartrate, which keeps you alert and awake. It may also improve concentration; studies show that drivers who listen to music are better at driving within the lines and matching the speed of the vehicles in front of them than those who drive without music.
Listening to music you love can serve as a distraction if you love it too much. The brain may switch tasks from focusing on driving with the music serving as background noise to active listening with driving becoming the secondary task. This is especially true for younger and less experienced drivers, and it may result in errors like speeding, forgetting to signal, or failing to check blind spots before turning or changing lanes.
Some research suggests the brain may also have difficulty looking away from the source of a noise. You may have experienced this if you’ve ever turned your head in response to a door opening, for example. In this case, you may be tempted to look at the radio display rather than the road.
We’ve learned that music increases your heart rate, which is a great way to stay awake, but drivers may be tempted to match their speed to the tempo of the songs they’re listening to. So, music playing at 120 beats per minute (BPM) or more can cause drivers to subconsciously speed. Researchers suggest listening to music between 60-80 BPM while in the car, because it closely matches a resting heart rate.
To give you a better idea of what and what not to listen to on your next drive, we’ve pulled 10 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 and separated them out according to whether they are safe to listen to while driving or not. Want an all-safe playlist? Download our own.
Today’s Hits – Top 5 Most Dangerous Songs to Drive To
Today’s Hits – Top 5 Safest Songs to Drive To
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