BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 19:38 GMT
Fast music - dangerous driving
High speed music is linked to high speed driving
High speed music is linked to high speed driving
Listening to fast music in the car may make people drive too quickly as well - increasing their risk of having an accident.

Israeli researchers found drivers who listen to uptempo tunes had more than twice as many accidents as those listening to slower music.

Other research has shown a link between loud music and dangerous driving.

In this research, Warren Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, looked at the effect of music's tempo on driver behaviour.

We would like to see research carried out into all kinds of driver distraction

Roger Vincent, RoSPA
In the study, 28 students - all of whom had been driving for around seven years - were given different types of music to listen to at high volume.

Each was monitored as they used a driving simulator, on which they drive around the virtual streets of Chicago while listening to different pieces of music, or none at all.


The researchers chose a range of music for the drivers to listen to, from laid-back George Benson ballads to clubbing music.

Tempos ranged from a slow 60 beats per minute up to a fast and furious 120 beats per minute or more.

Those drivers listening to uptempo music were twice as likely to go through a red light as those who were not listening to any music at all.

Drivers were also found to have twice as many accidents when they were listening to fast tempos as when they listened to slow or medium-paced music.

Drivers' heart rates were seen to fluctuate less when they were listening to music of any kind compared with no music at all.

Mr Brodsky, Schillinger Fellow for the Study of Music Sciences, at the Department of the Arts at Ben-Gurion University, suggested this shows that all kinds of music distract drivers and make them less alert.

He added that a study of driving patterns on a simulator may not be replicated on the roads.

But he said: "I think it's got to be taken seriously."

'Driver distraction'

He advised drivers to choose slower pieces of music, or to turn down the volume so that there is less chance of them being distracted from their driving.

He chose the pieces that he used in the study after listening to them as he drove to work. He said: "I could hardly control myself with some of the pieces. It was difficult taking my foot off the gas pedal. I'm now more careful in my choice of music."

Safe driving experts called for more research into all kinds of "driver distraction", from mobile phone conversations to changing the tape in the stereo.

Roger Vincent of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) told BBC News Online: "This is a really small study and we need to see wider research.

"We would like to see research carried out into all kinds of driver distraction."

But he said the link found in the Israeli study between faster tempos and faster driving could be seen as a warning for drivers.

"It's a reminder to take their foot of the accelerator. A thousand deaths a year are associated with speed."

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, said: "The main thing is that the music isn't so loud that it doesn't stop you thinking about your driving."

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Health
Driving increases back pain risk
17 Jul 01 | Health
'Ban mobiles when driving'
31 May 01 | Health
Rage risk of head injured drivers
13 Dec 00 | Health
Cannabis driving danger measured
01 Dec 00 | Health
Grass keeps you calm on the road
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories