Listening to pop music creates ‘the perfect atmosphere for smooth and controlled driving’, a new study has found.
The study, carried out by IAM RoadSmart and Auto Express, set out to discover the effects of different types of music on driving style and safety.
While pop music was deemed to have a positive effect, negative connotations were associated with listening to classical and heavy metal music – with the latter causing motorists to ‘lose their cool’ behind the wheel.
The study saw Auto Express consumer reporter, Tristan Shale-Hester, undertake two simulated laps of the Red Bull Ring in Austria while listening to songs from four different genres of music – thrash metal, hip-pop, classical and pop – at full volume.
The two-lap test involved fast acceleration, a series of ‘technically challenging’ corners and a speed-limited zone, completed by a controlled stop on the finish line at the end of the second lap.
Listing to ‘(sic)’ by heavy-metal band Slipknot, IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy Tim Shallcross found Tristan’s throttle movements to be ‘far more jagged’ – while Tristan admitted the song made it harder to concentrate on the circuit layout.
Meanwhile, listening Bach’s Goldberg Variations ‘encouraged too much relaxation’ – leading Tristan to drop his speed to just 35mph in a 50mph zone, without noticing.
‘Humble’ by hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar caused Tristan to overshoot the finish line by four car lengths – a potentially dangerous 60-70ft – while the laps set listening to ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift were found to be the ‘smoothest in terms of speed consistency’.
Tim Shallcross said: “What is clear is that the ferocious thrash metal really reduced the ability of the driver to get around the track smoothly.
“That, and high-energy dance music, are designed to be felt as well as heard, and to be listened to at volume. It’s clear neither help when it comes to making exacting driving manoeuvres.
“Volume is the major factor for concentration and has a big effect. I would certainly advise drivers to dial down the noise when making a manoeuvre – and save the thrash metal for later in the day, or night!”
Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief of Auto Express said: “This research shows that as well as making a conscious decision to put their phone away when driving, motorists should also think carefully about what music they listen to.
“While heavy metal was clearly linked to Tristan’s worst lap, classical music fans may be interested to learn that some pieces appear to promote too deep a state of relaxation to be listened to when behind the wheel.”