Road Safety News

Drivers should pay more attention to choice of music

Tuesday 9th June 2015

The music we listen to while driving can distract and have fatal consequences, according to research carried out by a professor of music psychology.

Professor Warren Brodsky, professor of music psychology and director of the Music Science Laboratory at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, warns that both novice and experienced drivers should be “more aware of how music influences their driving behaviour and vehicle control”.

This is the conclusion reached by professor Brodsky, and outlined in his new book, Driving With Music: Cognitive-Behavioural Implications.

Professor Brodsky maintains that our choice of music while driving can have a major influence on the way we drive, and, in some circumstances, lead to serious and possibly fatal outcomes.

The professor says that while listening to music is ingrained in the way we drive, apart from considering the physical issues of equipment control, there has been little research on the subject. To date, traffic and driving research has ignored the emotional impact of music on drivers, but professor Brodsky maintains that this too must be considered.

He also contends that safe driving is further complicated by the varying demands of the roadway itself and, as a result, the same music style may cause no harm to one driver while “causing havoc” to another.

Professor Brodsky says listening to music while driving is not necessarily dangerous, but the choice of music, when combined with other factors, can increase the risks. Conversely, he points out that some kinds of music may even contribute towards driver welfare. In this context, he argues that perhaps it is worth including the subject of driving with music as a component of driver education courses.


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

I wonder how long it will be before insurance companies start mining peoples spotify and itunes accounts to raise the premiums of certain young drivers who make "bad" musical choices. Is it causation or correlation I wonder? Non news and unless Telescreens (1984 style) are installed into cars unenforceable.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Idris, the day the music died was February 3rd 1959. Tommy Dee wrote a song, Three Stars, in honour of the dead which was recorded by Eddie Cochran in 1959 (released in 1966). He subsequently died in a single vehicle crash near Chippenham on the A4 (memorial stone in St Martin's hospital Bath). A boy of 12, Mark Field, who had seen him earlier in the tour and helped load the tour van later became Marc Bolan and he died in a car crash in 1977. Not sure what all that means but I tend to listen to Radio 4 or rock and roll. I wonder if audio books can do what music does? Discuss.
Peter Westminster

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

I cannot now remember the details but during the war the music played in factories carrying out repetitive work was chosen to improve productivity of those particular tasks.

I very much doubt that it would ever be possible to determine which sort of music would increase safety for the wide variety of drivers, vehicles and cars, nor do I think anyone would take any notice if they were so advised.

My preference? None at all, concentrate on what matters - in any case music died circa 1960.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

I am becoming increasingly concerned with the numbers of road users, drivers, riders, pedestrians, that are listening to music when they should be concentrating on the road and all of its dangers. Earphones on and taking telephone calls also are a distraction that we never had many years ago and could count as a cause or a contributory cause for any number of incidents. I do listen to music from time to time whilst driving the car and when I have had enough or feel that I need to give more attention to the road ahead I turn it off. I don't have an Ipod or a phone connection but most cyclists and some motorcyclists and mainly pedestrians particularly the younger more vulnerable groups have them all.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

'Heaven can wait' (off the same album Bat out of Hell) might be a better choice of music to listen to, for those tempted to drive or ride fast!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

Has anyone been able to drive slowly when listening to Bat out Of Hell. If you have you must be deaf. Yes music can sooth the savage beast but it can also bring on the adrenalin and we end up with Mr.Hyde. That info never goes on Stats 19.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

Sounds fascinating! We have long known about how the tempo and pace of music affects the tempo and pace of our movements.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (10) | Disagree (0)