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How Song Selection Can Be a Driving Distraction

How Song Selection Can Be a Driving Distraction

August 20, 2013

Social Sciences & Humanities

The Wall Street Journal — Fumbling with the buttons to find a good song while driving has been linked to increased risk of crashes, but is listening to that song risky?

It depends on the music, says a report to be published in the October issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention.

A new study, conducted by BGU’s Director of Music Science Research Dr. Warren Brodsky and researcher Zack Slor, found that teenage drivers who played their own music had significantly more traffic violations compared with background music designed by the researchers to minimize driving distractions, or no music. View a video about this study from NBC’s Today Show>>

The researchers recruited 85 drivers about 18 years old; just over half were male. The subjects were each assigned to drive six challenging road trips that were about 40 minutes long, accompanied by an experienced driving instructor.

Music was played on four trips, two with selections from the drivers’ playlists, mostly fast-paced vocals, and two with background music, which was a blend of easy listening, soft rock and light jazz in instrumental and vocal arrangements designed to increase driver safety. No music was played on two trips.

All 85 subjects committed at least three errors in one or more of the six trips; 27 received a verbal warning and 17 required steering or braking by an instructor to prevent an accident.

When the music was their own, 98% made errors. Without the music, 92% made errors. While listening to the safe-driving music, 77% made errors. Speeding, following too closely, inappropriate lane use, one-handed driving and weaving were the common violations.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal website