Walking by any cardio class at the gym – or watching Iron Eagle – should be enough clue that music affects the tempo at which we do things. A study, admittedly a tiny one, by UK car and financial site Confused.com puts it in perspective behind the wheel. Using its MotorMate app to monitor driving behavior during a 500-mile road trip, it had the eight participants drive the first half without music, while the second half was accompanied by different genres of tunes from classical to heavy metal.
The results? Heavy metal caused a male driver to go "much faster," hip-hop made one of the female drivers crank up the aggression, and a classical playlist caused two other drivers to be more erratic than when there was no music. A psychologist at London University backed up the findings, accidentally sounding like one of those campy PSAs from the 1950s at the same time when he commented, "Music that is noisy, upbeat and increases your heart rate is a deadly mix," and, "Fast beats can cause excitement and arousal that can lead people to concentrate more on the music than on the road."
With the revelation that up-tempo tunes can lead to drivers matching the 'beat' with their driving, the "ideal" driving rhythm was said to be that which matches the human heart rate, about 60 to 80 beats per minute. On the top ten list of most dangerous songs to drive to was "Hey Mama" by The Black Eyed Peas at number one, followed by Fall Out Boy's "Dead on Arrival" and M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." Ray Charles even made the list at number seven with "Hit the Road, Jack," as did Nickleback with "How You Remind Me," only slightly worse at number six.
A list of the ten best songs to safely drive to is a playlist straight from any easy listening radio station or Starbucks. Norah Jones took the lead with "Come Away with Me," groups like Coldplay, Elton John, Radiohead and Jason Mraz keeping her company. Interestingly, songs featuring Bruno Mars made both lists: you should stay away from "Young, Wild and Free" by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa, feat. Bruno Mars, but Travie McCoy's "Billionaire Feat. Bruno Mars" is safe.