The effects of music tempo on driver risk taking

Hall, A., and Wiesenthal D. L.
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals

A simulator was used in this Canadian study to investigate the effects of music tempo on risk-taking on roadways and performance. A total of 80 participants, with an average age of 21.6 years, took part in this study. Music consisted of a medley of genres including pop, rock, jazz, blues, funk and country to have a compilation of many genres. Music selections were classified into three groups, slow-tempo (40-70bpm), medium-tempo (85-110 bpm), and fast-tempo (85-110bpm). Participants listened to one of the three groups of music while in the driving simulator and completed a three-minute drive after completing two practice trials on the simulator. Validated measures of risky driving were used in the study.

There were significant differences between the control group that did not listen to music and experimental groups that did, notably that risk-taking increased as music tempo increased. Results revealed that individuals who listened to high tempo music were more likely to drive faster than individuals in the slow tempo or no music condition. Similarly, speeds were lower among participants in the slower tempo group compared to the medium tempo condition.
These results suggested that that having no music while driving could allow participants to drive at the baseline speed, although listening to slow tempo music may relieve anxiety and calm them resulting in a speed decease below their baseline. It was proposed that future research be conducted to gauge the effects of different types of music on the performance of vehicle tasks by drivers.

Hall, A., & Wiesenthal, D. L. The Effects of Music Tempo on Driver Risk Taking