Study finds listening to heavy metal music while driving could be dangerous

For some, listening to music on your morning drive to work is the most important ritual of the day, but metal heads beware: A new study analyzing the effects of listening to music while driving found that heavy metal music could actually cause motorists to drive more dangerously.

While this might not come as a surprise to some, the heavier and more “extreme” the music is, the more erratic and anxious the driver is likely to be.

The research was conducted by Auto Express Magazine and road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, and it analyzed how motorists would react to four different genres of music: metal, classical, rap and pop.

The analysis compared the effects of Slipknot’s “Sic,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”

Pop music seemed to be the safest option, “creating a perfect atmosphere for smooth and controlled driving,” according to the study.

The study used a high-tech racing rig at Base Performance Simulators in the United Kingdom, where drivers from the world’s top racing series go to hone their skills.

This was definitely not your average commute to work, however. There were a series of technically challenging scenarios involving acceleration, complicated corners and speed-limit zones, and a controlled stop on the finish line at the end of the last lap.

During the test, consumer reporter Tristan Shale-Hester underwent two simulated precision laps on the track in Austria while listening to the music at full volume.

Shale-Hester also drove a control lap with no music for four minutes and 34 seconds.

Easily his worst lap was driving while listening to Slipknot, with a lap time 14 seconds slower than his control lap, and much more erratic driving than tests with the other music.

When “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift came on, Shale-Hester's laps were the “smoothest in terms of speed consistency.”

In a press release, IAM Roadsmart explained that while heavy metal was clearly linked to the driver’s worst lap, classical music was responsible for promoting “too deep a state of relaxation to be listened to behind the wheel.”

“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!” said Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at IAM RoadSmart.