Teens' Music Distracts From Driving, Shows Study


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Teen drivers are notorious for higher rates of vehicle accidents and higher insurance premiums. Though assumptions might blame inexperience for this trend, a new study has shown that teens' music choices could be influencing these statistics.

The study, to be published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, shows that teens who listen to their preferred music are more likely to make mistakes while driving. The study's authors chalk the effect up to teens getting lost in the music.

"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," said Warren Brodsky, a researcher on the study and a music science researcher at Ben-Gurion University.

Brodsky and his colleagues put 85 young drivers in cars with driving instructors and had them drive "challenging" 40-minute driving routes. When listening to their own music, the teens averaged three driving mistakes, which included speeding, tailgating, improper lane changes, and one-handed driving. Only slightly fewer mistakes were also seen when the teens drove the route with no music at all. When the teens drove with a specially-created easy listening, soft rock, and light jazz mix designed to promote safety, mistakes dropped by 20%.

"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," said Brodsky. "Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly - approximately 120 to 130 decibels."

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