Attention teens and parents: New research suggests younger drivers who listen to their favorite music while behind the wheel are far more likely to speed, tailgate, and engage in other reckless habits on the road.
The findings, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, suggest music may be nearly as distracting to teen drivers as texting or talking on the phone while driving.
The study, led by Warren Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, evaluated 85 young novice drivers accompanied as each took six challenging 40-minute road trips with an instructor/monitor along for the ride. For two of the trips, drivers listened to their favorite music from their own playlists; for two other trips they listened to background music designed to increase driver safety (easy listening, soft rock, light jazz), and two others were made without any music playing.
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The results showed when the teen drivers listened to their favorite tunes, virtually all (98 percent) demonstrated multiple poor-driving behaviors — such as speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles, one-handed driving, requiring a verbal warning or command from an instructor to correct a mistake, or even needing an assisted steering or braking maneuver to prevent an accident.
But when driving with an alternative music background designed by Brodsky and Israeli music composer Micha Kisner — or without any music playing — poor-driving habits decreased by up to 20 percent.
"Most drivers worldwide prefer to listen to music in a car and those between ages 16 to 30 choose driving to pop, rock, dance, hip-hop, and rap," Brodsky explained. "Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly — approximately 120 to 130 decibels.
"Drivers in general are not aware that as they get drawn in by a song, they move from an extra-personal space involving driving tasks, to a more personal space of active music listening."
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