Listening to Metal Makes You an Awful Driver

A study shows the genre hinders ability behind the wheel
Listening to Metal Makes You an Awful Driver
While research as shown that heavy metal music can have calming effects, new research shows that might not be the case when listening behind the wheel of a car.

A new study conducted by U.K. car magazine Auto Express and road safety charity IAM RoadSmart sought to uncover how different types of music affect driving habits. Test results found that metal could cause motorists to lose control behind the wheel much easier in comparison to pop or classical music.

The study was conducted using a racing rig simulator at Base Performance Simulators near Banbury, Oxfordshire, where reporter Tristan Shale-Hester was tasked with taking two simulated precision laps of Austria's Red Bull Ring motorsport race track while listening to four different genres at full volume.

Selections for Shale-Hester included thrash metal, hip-hop, classical and pop, and after setting a control lap time of four minutes 34 seconds with no music playing, the reporter began the simulation by driving to Slipknot's "(sic)."

The study found that Shale-Hester completed a lap 14 seconds slower, while his movements controlling the throttle were "far more jagged" than those in the lap without music. His next attempt was soundtracked by Bach's Goldberg Variations, and though the driving was better, his lap time was 12 seconds slower than the control lap, dropping his speed to 35 mph in a 50 mph zone.

Shale-Hester then did a lap soundtracked by Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," which saw him drive "smoothest in terms of speed consistency," while a drive to Kendrick Lamar's "HUMBLE." saw him overshoot a stop at the finish line by four car lengths.

"What is clear is that the ferocious thrash metal really reduced the ability of the driver to get around the track smoothly. That, and high-energy dance music, are designed to be felt as well as heard, and to be listened to at volume. It's clear neither help when it comes to making exacting driving manoeuvres," IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy Tim Shallcross said in a statement.

"Volume is the major factor for concentration and has a big effect. I would certainly advise drivers to dial down the noise when making a manoeuvre — and save the thrash metal for later in the day, or night!"