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Uptempo music on the radio may cause drivers to crash
Sun Mar 17 2002 21:30:21 ET
London (dpa) - Drivers who listen to fast music in their cars are twice as liable to have an accident as those listening to slower tracks, says an Israeli researcher.
Previous studies have shown a link between loud music and dangerous driving and Warren Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, wondered if musical tempo had any effect on driver behaviour. His findings are published in New Scientist magazine.
He put a group of 28 students through their paces on a driving simulator. Each student drove round the virtual streets of Chicago while listening to different pieces of music, or none at all. The students had an average of seven years' driving experience.
Brodsky chose music with a variety of styles, ranging from gentle George Benson ballads to the ultra-fast club numbers. The tempo ranged from a slow 60 beats per minute up to a fast and furious 120 beats per minute or more. All the music was played relatively loudly to maximise its effect.
As the tempo increased, Brodsky found drivers took more risks, such as jumping red lights, and had more accidents. When listening to uptempo pieces, they were twice as likely to jump a red light as those who were not listening to music. And drivers had more than twice as many accidents when they were listening to fast tempos as when they listened to slow or medium-paced numbers.
Brodsky says the behaviour on a simulator may not translate into the same behaviour on the road. He also monitored the drivers' heart rate and found that it fluctuated less when they were listening to music of any kind compared with no music at all. This lack of variation, he suggests, shows that music is distracting the drivers and making them less alert.
Brodsky says drivers should be aware of the tempo effect and choose slower pieces of music - or turn down the volume so they are less distracted.
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