Whether it’s relaxing to a mellow tune or getting amped up by loud beat, all of us have felt the impact of music at some point in our lives. Playing music while we drive can help us to pass the time, and can even keep us alert on the road, but music becomes a problem when it veers us into distraction.
According to the study Effects of sound types and volumes on simulated driving, vigilance tasks and heart rate out of Memorial University in Newfoundland, the key ingredient isn’t what type of music you are listening to but rather how loud it is being played. In the study participants simulated driving while talking on a cellphone and listening to music. Moderate music provided no further distraction from the cellphone chatter, but when the music was turned up the problems began.
When we think of dangerous driving music we imagine screaming, pumping beats, but this study revealed that is not always the case. Pop tunes, and any other type of music for that matter, become distracting right when the volume is turned up. According to the study the main issue is processing time. The more environmental signs that your brain has to process, the longer it will take to interpret them all.
At the other end of the curve, if you’re too relaxed you will begin to lose your sharpness. When driving you want to stay at your optimal level of awareness — alert, but not distracted. So though the level of distraction can very, the message is clear; when you’re playing loud music you can’t react at your optimal level.
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