Safety experts warn of the danger of upbeat music when driving

A group of researchers including road safety expert Nick Reed of Reed Mobility have discovered that fast-tempo music can make people worse drivers in urban areas.

The study, undertaken at Brunel University, tested people’s driving styles in a simulator while playing them fast music, slow music and no music. People listening to fast tempo music scored worse.

“We examined the interactive effects of task load and music tempo in simulated driving (urban and highway),” the researchers report. “Cognition, mood, cardiac response, and driving behaviour were assessed. Participants exhibited more risky behaviours in response to fast-tempo music. Drivers should exercise caution in their use of up-tempo music in urban settings.”

They found fast-tempo music elicited greater risk-taking behaviour, and men exhibited greater risk-taking behaviour than women.

They conclude from their study, “It appears that under high-load conditions, particularly when a driver feels stressed or under the pressure of time, slow-tempo music is likely to engender an affective state that is most conducive to safety-relevant behaviour.

Read the full report here.

Professor Reed featured talked about his National Highways’ Chief Safety Adviser role on a recent Highways Voices podcast.

(Picture – Yay Images – image NOT of Nick Reed)


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