The results come from a survey of 1,780 motorists carried out by YouGov with research commissioned by Privilege Insurance and interpreted by the University of Sheffield.
Music psychologist Dr Nicola Dibben, based at the university, said overly complex music, tunes with little repetition and songs with emotive vocals could all divert motorists’ attention away from the roads and increase their aggression levels.
She said: ‘Singing while driving stimulates not only the mind but also the body, which in turn produces heightened alertness and reduced fatigue. Singing may be less distracting than conversation because drivers recall words to songs they already know or because it is fairly easy to learn the words to music where it uses repeated lyrics.’
She added that choosing the right music – songs drivers recognise – can boost concentration levels and increase safe driving.
Privilege Insurance managing director Ian Parker commented: ‘This study shows that listening to music can have both positive and negative effects on driving behaviour.
‘The right music can aid safe driving by increasing alertness and putting the motorist in a calm and relaxed state of mind. Meanwhile the wrong music can impair safe driving by distracting motorists and even increasing their aggression on the roads.’
The survey also revealed that one in 10 respondents found in-car conversations distracting.
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