Does Music Cause Car Accidents?

Do our music choices lead to dangerous driving and car accidents? The freedom of the open road carries with it certain inherent risks, regardless of how careful we are. However, there are also certainly things we can do to minimize these risks – don’t text while driving, obey speed laws and always wear your seat belt. But do we now have monitor the type of music we listen to?

Does The Type of Music Affect Your Driving?

An intriguing experiment involving the effect of music on driving style was recently conducted by Using a driving app designed for GPS enabled cell phones, the driving habits of eight participants were closely monitored for 500 miles of driving distance each. During the first 250 miles, participants did not play music. For the second 250 miles, participants played music while they drove. Different styles of music were also compared.

The driving app, called MotorMark, measured the following criteria:

1. Time and date
2. Speed
3. Acceleration
4. Deceleration
5. G-rating (cornering)
6. Braking
Although the sample size is rather small and there are several flaws in the experimental design, the results are interesting nonetheless.

Listening to hip-hop and heavy metal music produced high risk driving habits including:

1. Speeding
2. Fast acceleration
3. Last-minute braking
These behaviors are all associated with a higher risk of having an accident and putting yourself and others at danger.

Perhaps somewhat counter-intuitive, classical music produced erratic driving behavior. This was demonstrated in at least two drivers. However, if you think about it, classical music often starts out slow and mellow but builds to a much faster crescendo.

List of 10 Most Dangerous Driving Songs

According to the study, these are the 10 most dangerous songs to drive to. Some on the list might actually make you want to run off the road (sorry Nickelback fans).

Black Eyed Peas – “Hey Mama”
Fall Out Boy: “Dead on Arrival”
M.I.A.: “Paper Planes”
Steriogram: “Walkie Talkie Man”
Guns N’ Roses: “Paradise City”
Nickelback: “How You Remind Me”
Ray Charles: “Hit the Road, Jack”
Johnny Cash: “Get Rhythm”
Kanye West: “Heartless”
Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa (feat. Bruno Mars): “Young, Wild and Free”

Safe Driving and Music – Is Tempo the Key?

The results of the experiment were reviewed by Dr. Simon Moore, a psychologist at London University. He suggests that the tempo of the music plays a role in driving behavior. He suggests that upbeat music raises the heart beat and may subconsciously cause a driver to accelerate and/or drive more haphazardly. He suggests that the best music to drive to may be music with a tempo that matches a normal heartbeat.

5 Songs For Safe Driving put together a list of songs that match the human heartbeat here (Link):
Travis McCoy- “Billionaire feat. Bruno Mars”
Jason Mraz – “I’m Yours”
Coldplay: “The Scientist
Elton John: “Tiny Dancer” (I prefer the Tim McGraw version, but that’s just me)
Justin Timberlake: “Cry Me a River” (JT is always a good add to any playlist)
Some have suggested that some of the songs on this moderately slow playlist may in fact be so mellow they may make some drivers too sleepy. In other words, it may be best to develop your own individualized playlist depending on how music affects you personally.

The conclusions drawn in this experiment should be taken with a grain of salt. As mentioned above, the experimental design is not scientifically valid. Most importantly, the sample size is not large enough to be scientifically valid. The experimental design did not account for the effects of fatigue. The drivers must have been tired after the first 250 miles of driving with no music. Therefore, fatigue can not be eliminated as a significant factor in the changes that were seen in driving behavior the second 250 miles. There is also no mention of the age of the drivers which is often considered an important factor in driving habits. In a scientifically valid experiment, age would be randomized or all participants would be of the same age. We were also not informed if the route taken was standardized with each of the drivers following the same route in similar traffic conditions. In order for the results to be statistically significant, this would have to be the case.

Even though the experiment is not scientifically valid, it certainly provides food for thought and inspiration for monitoring our own driving habits more closely. It might be fun to download the MotorMark app and monitor your own driving habits with and without music. You may also want to determine if listening to different styles of music makes any difference. The app is available for both android devices (version 2.3 or later) and for iPhones (click here):

Speak With A California Personal Injury Attorney

Just remember, if you are involved in a car accident that is due to the negligence of another person, music related or otherwise, you are always better off contacting a personal injury attorney immediately. You will jeopardize your chances of fair compensation if you speak to the insurance representatives directly. You are always going to fare better if you let an attorney speak on your behalf. If you are involved in an accident, it can save valuable time if you have the phone number of a good personal injury lawyer handy in your purse, wallet, or glove box. The May Firm specializes in this type of law and we handle many car accident cases