Playing our favorite music while we drive improves our mood and creates a sense of contentment. It’s a fact supported by research and our own personal experience. But can it also cause you to get into an accident?

In 2013 an Israeli study explored the relationship between your music and your driving abilities. 85 young drivers were enlisted to undertake six driving challenges, accompanied by an experienced driving instructor. On two trips, the drivers could play their favorite songs. During another two, easy listening music was played, and on the last two trips, there was no music.

The results were as follows:

  • On trips where they made the music choices, 98% of the drivers made mistakes
  • When easy listening music was playing, only 77% of the drivers made mistakes

Many researchers believe that listening to our favorite music can distract us. The theory has merit: when a song we like comes on the radio, we sing out loud, tap our fingers on the steering wheel, and even head bob. Any of these behaviors can distract us long enough to get into a serious accident.

Another study, this one carried out in the UK in 2013, tagged upbeat music as a driving hazard. Eight drivers were each asked to travel for 500 miles. The first 250 miles was travelled in silence, but a designated playlist featuring classical, dance, heavy metal, and hip-hop songs was played during the second half of the journey. The findings were:

  • When music with a quicker tempo came up, both male and female drivers tended to drive recklessly or speed.
  • Heavy metal music encouraged people to speed
  • Drivers listening to hip hop tended to brake and accelerate more suddenly

The conclusion was that upbeat and energetic music increased driver adrenaline levels and caused their heartbeats to accelerate. This can both distract the listener and cause them to drive more quickly. The song Hey Mama by the Black Eyed Peas was cited as being especially dangerous “driving music.”

Music with a low beat, on the other hand, like the Norah Jones hit Come Away With Me tended to make the drivers feel less edgy and rushed. Dr. Simon Moore of London University recommended music that averaged 60 to 80 beats a minute, which is the resting rate of the human heart. It does not appear to affect adrenaline levels or change driver mood, so the message is clear: for the safest driving experience, an easy listening playlist is your best choice for highway background music.

If you are injured by a driver who is too busy playing air guitar behind the wheel to pay attention to the road ahead, then contact a New York City personal injury attorney immediately. While there is nothing wrong with listening to your favorite tunes, when it causes dangerous driving behavior and you are injured as a result, you deserve compensation. Jayson Lutzky is an accident and personal injury lawyer with an office in the Bronx. He offers free in-person initial consultations. In the event of a serious injury, home and/or hospital visits are available. Mr. Lutzky has helped clients obtain settlements totaling millions of dollars over the past 34 years. If you were injured, then call 718-514-6619.