Teen drivers listening to music they choose make more errors

Aug. 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM
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BEER-SHEVA, Israel, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Teens listening to music they prefer while driving make more errors than those listening to music specially chosen to promote safety, researchers in Israel say.

Warren Brodsky, director of Music Science Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and researcher Zack Slor evaluated 85 young novice drivers accompanied by a researcher/driving instructor. Each driver took six challenging 40-minute trips -- two with music from their own playlists; two with easy listening, soft rock or light jazz background music, designed to increase driver safety; and two trips without any music.

When the teen drivers listened to their preferred music, 98 percent demonstrated an average of three deficient driving behaviors in at least one of the trips.

Nearly a third of those required a sudden verbal warning or command for action and 20 percent needed an assisted steering or braking maneuver to prevent an imminent accident. Errors included speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles and one-handed driving.

Driving without music, 92 percent made errors.

When driving with an alternative music background designed by Brodsky and Israeli music composer Micha Kisner, deficient driving behaviors decreased by 20 percent.

"Most drivers worldwide prefer to listen to music in a car and those between ages 16-30 choose driving to pop, rock, dance, hip-hop and rap," Brodsky said in a statement. "Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly at 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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