Think that it doesn’t much matter what song comes onto the radio next?
Music has a surprising impact on the brain — and on driving ability. Whether you’re a truck driver or just an average motorist, music can make a huge difference in your mood, heart rate and distraction levels. We might not think about it, but music could be the difference between a safe ride and disaster. Here are 5 things to think about next time you change the radio station.
Five Crazy Facts About Music and Driving
1. Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie could kill you if you’re not careful. The Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring found that Wagner’s operatic classic is the most dangerous song you can listen to while you’re driving. Researchers find that the frantic tempo can actually change a driver’s perception of his own speed.
2. As a matter a fact, just stay away from classical music altogether. Weird but true: classical music causes more erratic driving than any other type of music, including hip-hop and heavy metal. Researchers think this is because of the many tempo changes within classical music, as well as its tenancy to go from whisper soft to incredibly loud.
3. Young drivers who are listening to music that they choose are more dangerous. Novice drivers who are allowed to choose their own music (as opposed to silence or music selected by researchers) are more likely to make driving errors and to drive aggressively. The study didn’t say whether the effect extended to more experienced drivers.
4. Elton John makes you a better driver. London Metropolitan University researchers found that some music makes people drive better. Among the top ten safe driving songs? “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith.
5. Singing along diverts brain power away from driving. Even if you’re belting out a song you’ve heard a hundred times, your brain still has to work to coordinate the melody and the words. And according to researchers, this added drain on your brain makes it harder for you to react quickly to situations that arise while you’re behind the wheel.