« Dorothy McGuire dies | Main | Deepest a cappella performance a world record »

September 11, 2012

Study Says Singing While Driving a Distraction

Vancouver Sun:

A new study suggests drivers’ car-aoke performances aren’t just a menace to their passengers’ ears but also to everyone else on the road. A Canadian researcher finds singing while driving impairs people’s abilities behind the wheel, increasing perceived mental workload and decreasing hazard awareness. The good news, however, is that belting out a tune is also linked to slower average speeds and better lane-keeping abilities, both of which could prove helpful on the highway.

The study, presented at the recent International Conference on Traffic & Transport Psychology in the Netherlands, adds to a growing body of research exploring the ways in which music is linked to driver distraction.

“These findings, while preliminary, suggest that drivers should try to avoid singing while driving, and even listening to music when driving — especially when the driving demand is high,” says study author Christina Rudin-Brown, pointing to bad weather and unfamiliar surroundings as examples.

The study used a simulator to assess performance on a driver distraction test, which involved a 6.6 km urban trip with four speed zones and a combination of expected and unexpected events (traffic light changes and a pedestrian stepping onto the street, respectively).

Prior to recruitment, all participants were asked to learn the lyrics to I’m a Believer, as performed by Smash Mouth, and Imagine, as performed by John Lennon. Test conditions included no music, music, and music with singing.

“Compared to when there was no music playing, singing participants drove more slowly, maintained a less consistent speed, and took somewhat longer to respond to potentially hazardous stimuli in the road ahead,” says Rudin-Brown, human factors specialist with Transport Canada’s Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate.

“But, unexpectedly, singing and listening to music were associated with better lane-keeping performance than the no-music condition.” Read more.

Posted by acapnews at September 11, 2012 12:00 AM