How Music May Affect Your Driving Behavior

by Staff Blogger | August 7th, 2019

Car accidents occur every day when drivers get distracted by the radio dial or while flipping through a playlist, but is music itself a cause of traffic accidents? Music and driving have been an inseparable pair since radios were first added to vehicles, but now researchers are becoming interested in whether that relationship is helpful or harmful.

The Case for Music while Driving

In driving situations when you are locked in traffic, listening to music can boost your mood and reduce your stress levels. In turn, this can reduce aggressive driving and road rage.

In highway driving, listening to music has been connected with improved concentration, decreased lane drifting, and more accuracy in matching speed to flow of traffic. It also increases heartrate, making it easier for drivers to stay awake and aware.

The Case Against Music while Driving

Loud music, or any music played over 85 decibels (dB), has been shown to reduce reaction time. Likewise, fast music, or any music with more than 120 beats per minute (BPM), may cause overexcitement, and cause a driver to subconsciously speed.

When you really love a song, that may be another reason to take it off your road trip playlist. It becomes too easy to become distracted and begin making errors such as forgetting to signal or check blind spots. In studies comparing driving performance when listening to personal music vs music provided by researchers, tailgating also increased when drivers listened to their own music.

How to Build Your Playlist

In general, music with a tempo of 60-80 BPM is the safest to drive to, because it mimics the average human heart rate. Most music among today’s hits falls around 100 BPM, but anything over 120 BPM may encourage dangerous driving habits. Based on what we know about the safest and most dangerous tempos, we’ve found five of the most dangerous songs to listen to while driving and five safe alternatives, all pulled from the Billboard Hot 100.

Today’s Hits – Top 5 Most Dangerous Songs to Drive To

  1. bad guy by Billie Eilish – 135 BPM
  2. Talk by Khalid – 136 BPM
  3. Sucker by Jonas Brothers – 138 BPM
  4. If I Can’t Have You by Shawn Mendes – 124 BPM
  5. Sweet But Psycho by Ava Max – 133 BPM

Today’s Hits – Top 5 Safest Songs to Drive To

  1. Old Town Road by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – 67 BPM
  2. Suge by DaBaby – 75 BPM
  3. Beer Never Broke My Heart by Luke Combs – 77 BPM
  4. Earfquake by Tyler, The Creator – 80 BPM
  5. 7 Rings by Ariana Grande – 70 BPM

You can also enjoy our all-Safe Driving Playlist for your next commute.

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