By Emsie Martin
It certainly is great having a good sound system in your car. Music is one way of making the snail’s pace at which cars move in peak hour traffic or the long road more bearable. But did you know that your choice of music can have an influence on your driving ability?
Research shows that songs with a tempo of between 60 to 80 beats per minute are optimal for driving, which means that AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses are out, and Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran are recommended. “Apart from your attention not being on the road while you are searching for a song on your playlist, the music itself can affect your mood, which in its turn can influence your driving ability. The higher the volume, the more you are inclined to drive faster, react aggressively or not concentrate on the road,” says Maanda Tshifularo, head of Dialdirect.
According to a study by the Ear Institute of the University College London, a person’s eyes and ears should be focused on the same object for optimal reaction time. By dividing your attention between the radio and the traffic, you increase the risk of causing an accident.
A research project entitled Effect of noise and music on man’s task performance: a systematic survey, by the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, found that music can decrease a person’s stress and aggression in frustrating situations such as traffic jams.
On the other hand, it can weaken your ability to swerve and avoid other vehicles. Researcher have concluded that music with a moderate volume is optimal for driving, while loud music or noise impair human task performance.
A research team led by Dr. Simon Moore, a psychologist at the London Metropolitan University in Britain, has found that lively, loud music accelerates your heart beat – which causes excitement and results in motorists concentrating more on the music than on the road.
According to Moore, songs with a tempo of between 60 to 80 beats per minutes are optimal for driving as it is similar to humans’ average resting heartbeat. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck beats at 133 beats per minutes (bpm); Taylor Swift’s Style lies at 96 bpm; Beyoncé’s Halo reaches 80 bpm and Ed Sheeran’s Perfect lies at 64 bpm,” says Tshifularo. The study also found that listening to music that you don’t like, can cause stress and weaken your concentration.
Dialdirect shares the following tips for safe driving while enjoying your music:
Keep your eyes on the road
Keep your eyes on the road at all times. If you drive at a speed of 100km/h and become occupied with your radio or look at your playlist for only three seconds, you will have covered the length of a rugby field without your eyes having been on the road.
Turn down the volume
Withstand the temptation to play your music at an ear-deafening level. Apart from it taking your attention from the road, it also obliterates essential sounds about what is happening in the traffic around you. Even your vehicle’s engine can make a loud sound without you noticing it.
Choose your music
Choose a playlist or radio station that plays music you like and that make you feel content and relaxed.
Don’t get behind the wheel if you are angry or frustrated, and remember the road is not the place where you act out personal anger or grievances. When the traffic or stressful work day gets you down, you should purposefully tune into more restful music.
Beware of becoming sleepy
It’s never a good idea to drive when you are tired, but if you only have a short distance to go to reach your destination, you should not listen to music with a temp of less that 60 beats per minute.
Silence behind the wheel sometimes is just the way to calm down after a difficult day or to cheer you up. Perhaps it’s time to just savour the silence.
“Music can help you to stay focused on long trips and prevent an explosion about non-moving traffic,” concludes Tshifularo. “However, if you become aware that your heartbeat is accelerating, you are stepping on the fuel pedal all the more, or you are paying attention to your karaoke solo, it is best to turn down the sound. Despite your best efforts, it could still happen that Greased lightning turns into Crash and burn within seconds, so make sure your car and musical appliances are properly ensured.”