A new study by motor magazine Auto Express and road safety organization IAM Roadsmart compared drivers’ reaction times while listening to various genres of music. The study concluded that listening to heavy metal caused the largest delay in reaction time — or, in other words, bad driving. The study concluded that pop music was the best to listen to in the car.
The study compared four genres of music: heavy metal, pop, hip hop, and classical. A driver would complete two laps at the Grand Prix track at the Red Bull Ring in Austria while blasting a song from the specified genre at full volume. The driving course included fast acceleration, technically challenging corners, and a speed-limit zone.
After completing a course with no music, the driver blasted “(Sic)” by Slipknot. The driver’s reaction times were significantly affected. The course was completed 14 seconds slower and the driver had more jagged throttle movements. The driver said the heavy metal music made it harder to concentrate on the course.
The next genre tested was classical music. The driver played Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” while driving the course. The music had a different effect, but with a similar outcome. The driver was calmer — but to a fault. The classical music chilled him out so much that he dropped his speed to 35 mph in a 50 mph speed zone without noticing.