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Study: Soft-Rock Playlist Calms Road Rage

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MotorMate app logoIn an ABC News Music blog article, “Want to Drive Safer? Switch the Radio to Coldplay,” Kevin Dolak reports that according to a recent study, soft rock is the best music for preventing road rage. Researchers at London Metropolitan University analyzed results of experiments by U.K. insurance price comparison website Confused.com to arrive at the safest or most dangerous music a driver can listen to, Dolak writes.

The experiments involved four male and four female motorists who each drove 250 miles while their driving skills were measured. The participants then each drove an additional 250 miles while each listening to different playlists. While they were driving, Confused.com’s MotorMate driving app was measuring their driving skills, and giving each driver a score for how safe they were.

A free download, MotorMate was developed in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, according to a description appearing in the Google Play store. MotorMate runs in the background of Android phones, and rates drivers with up to five stars, based on how they brake, accelerate, and whether or not they drive at appropriate speeds.

Ishbel Macleod writes for The Drum that according to the study, the top 10 songs on the safe driving playlist were:

1. Come Away With Me — Norah Jones

2. Billionaire Feat. Bruno Mars — Travie McCoy

3. I’m Yours — Jason Mraz

4. The Scientist — Coldplay

5. Tiny Dancer — Elton John

6. Cry Me a River — Justin Timberlake

7. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing — Aerosmith

8. Karma Police — Radiohead

9. Never Had a Dream Come True — S Club 7

10. Skinny Love — Bon Iver

The study found that all of the drivers (regardless of gender) who listened to the classical music playlist drove the most erratically, while the heavy metal playlist caused males to drive much faster than anyone else in the study, Macleod writes. Females in the study who listened to the dance playlist had a similar fast-driving result.

MacLeod quotes Dr Simon Moore, psychologist from London’s Metropolitan University:

‘Music that is noisy, upbeat and increases your heart rate is a deadly mix: 55 to 65 decibels is the optimum music volume for driving.’

However, he added that listening to music you don’t like can ’cause stress and distraction and this also negatively affects driving.’

Sharon Flaherty, head of content and PR at Confused.com, called the experiment ground-breaking, and said the results were unanticipated. She added that the MotorMate app “goes a long way to creating safer drivers, safer roads and makes people think twice about their actions when getting behind the wheel,” as Macleod reports. Flaherty urges people to take Dr. Moore’s advice and listen to songs with a “mid-range” beat, the safest music to drive by.

In a related article, “Road Rage — What Annoys Drivers the Most?,” Christian Nordqvist writes in Medical News Today that according to a study in Accident Analysis and Prevention, road rage is a major safety concern and thought to be a contributing factor in almost half of all car accidents.

To conduct the study, Nordqvist writes, researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health evaluated more than 5,000 online reports posted between 1999 and 2007 on RoadRagers.com by drivers with complaints. Researcher Dr. Christine Wickens and her team found the most common complains to be cutting and weaving (54%), speeding (29%), and hostile displays (25%).

Here is the number one song on the road rage prevention list:

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