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Teen Music Makes Teens More Prone to Driving Mistakes

Update Date: Aug 23, 2013 04:04 PM EDT

One of the most nerve wrecking skills to learn as a young teenager is driving. Even though driving feels easy after one gets used to it, driving is initially very scary. Not only can the roads be unsafe due to natural reasons, other factors such as bad drivers or new drivers add on to the risks as well. Due to these threats, it is extremely important to be a good and safe driver. According to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, one of the ways to avoid accidents for novice drivers especially is to pick music that is soft and light as opposed to the type of music that most teenagers like to listen to.

"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. Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly," said one of the researchers, Warren Brodsky according to Medical Xpress. Brodsky is the director of music science research/ He worked with researcher, Zack Slor. "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."

For this study, the researchers recruited 85 novice drivers who went through six different driving routes with a researcher/driving instructor in the vehicle at all times. The six different driving routes lasted 40 minutes and involved using different types of music. In two of the sessions, the teenagers were allowed to play their own music. In another two sessions, the researchers played easy to listen to music, which included soft rock and light jazz. The last two sessions played no music at all. During the experiments, the researchers focused on driver deficiencies, which included miscalculations, inaccuracy, aggressiveness and violations. The researchers also paid attention to overall vehicle performance.

The researchers found that during the sessions where the teenagers played their own music, 98 percent of them had an average of three deficient driving behaviors in at least one of the two sessions. 32 percent of these drivers needed a verbal warning from their instructor or a command. 20 percent needed help with steering or braking. When there was no music at all, 92 percent of them made errors. When the music was soft rock or light jazz, the percentage of mistakes fell by 20. Deficient driving behaviors encompassed speeding, tailgating, careless lane changing, passing cars and one-hand driving.

The researchers hope that this study can shed light on how parents as well as teenagers could lower risks of car accidents by changing music. However, music is not the key in driving safely. New drivers must learn how to avoid distractions and focus on the road. The study was published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

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