We read with interest the findings of the good people over at the South China University of Technology, who’ve been hard at work discovering which songs are most likely to encourage erratic driving. Their results aren’t terribly surprising: loud aggressive music makes you drive more aggressively; soft passive music makes you drive more passively.
What did the Researchers Do?
The study crammed participants into a driving simulator, and had them drive along a six-lane motorway for twenty minutes. Some of the drivers were asked to listen to slower, softer music, like Toto. Others were asked to listen to hard and fast music, like Green Day. The latter group changed lanes twice as often as the former, and drove on average 5mph faster. Therefore loud music makes you a dangerous driver. So far, so obvious.
Reasons to be Sceptical
But is this really a fair experiment? This is, after all, a simulation, and we behave differently when we know that what we’re doing isn’t real. When we’re playing Grand Theft Auto V and ‘Moves Like Jagger’ comes on, we might well decide to pull a handbrake turn over the central reservation; that does not necessarily mean we’ll do so in real life.
Moreover, there is such a thing as dangerously soft music. If you listen to Enya whilst driving, then you might find yourself entering a state of profound relaxation – which is hardly ideal if you need to be paying attention to the world around you. Surely there’s some happy medium between intensity and moroseness?
Another study conducted recently claimed that, of the 96 most popular songs on Spotify, ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day is the most dangerous to drive to. Why they didn’t test out 100 songs is a question to which we’ll never know the answer.
Dangerous Driving Songs
The list of dangerous songs doing the rounds seems a little bit arbitrary to us. Alongside ‘American Idiot’ we have ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen and ‘Mr Brightside’ by the Killers. This seems less like a list of dangerous songs than the songs a cover band is most likely to learn if they want to go down well at the local beer festival.
We have our own suggestions for ‘most dangerous driving song’, and we’d like anyone with access to a driving simulator to perform their own tests. They’re surely a lot more dangerous than Green Day.
TV II – Ministry
This song doesn’t have any discernible tempo – it’s just a blast of snare drums and guitars interspersed by a very angry bloke screaming about connecting dots. How can it be safe to drive when this is playing?
Mick Gordon – BFG Division
This song was made famous by 2016’s reimagining of classic shooting-game Doom, whose sequel comes out later this year. It too, features insane noises, loud guitars, and thundering drums. If you listen to it, you’re almost guaranteed to drive faster.
Darude – Sandstorm
Does anything really need to be said about this meme-tastic techno classic? We don’t think it’s possible to drive sensibly while listening to this sort of thing – and for this reason it should come probably come with a warning label.