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Metal Science

Study Advises Against Listening To Heavy Metal While Driving


I don't know about you, but when I am barreling down a highway (at the speed limit  of 65mph of course), nothing helps keep me going like blasting Metallica's "Battery" or anything off Pantera's Far Beyond Driven album. But a new study is claiming that playing heavy metal may hinder your driving ability. Say whaaa?

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Auto Express magazine and IAM RoadSmart, a UK charity that claims to have “spent more than 60 years making our roads safer by improving driver and rider skills through coaching and education,” ran a test to see if the type of music you play in your car affects your driving. Here are the rules:

During the test, consumer reporter Tristan Shale-Hester was tasked with undertaking two simulated precision laps of the Grand Prix track Red Bull Ring in Austria while listening to songs at full volume from four different genres of music – thrash metal, hip-pop, classical and pop.

The two-lap test involved fast acceleration, a series of technically challenging corners and a speed-limited zone, completed by a controlled stop on the finish line at the end of the second lap.

The first run was done with no music and the timing was four minutes at 34 seconds.

Then, Tristian tried the lap while Slipknot's (sic) was blasting and was a "stgaggering" 14 seconds slower and his throttle movements were more jagged. Tristain "admitted listening to Slipknot made it harder to concentrate on the circuit layout. "

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Then, they played some classical music in the form of Bach and he was still 12 seconds slower than his control lap, and dropped to 35mph in a 50 zone.

When playing the pop hit "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift, he was only two seconds slower than his control time and this was his smoothest ride yet.

Finally, playing hip hop – Kendric Lamar's "Humble" to be specific – resulted in Tristian just being one second slower.

My problem with this study is it is completely subjective. Has Tristain ever heard heavy metal before? If he didn't, I can see how it's jarring, but to a regular metalhead it can be as peaceful as Bach!

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As for the final, dubious takes.

“While heavy metal was clearly linked to Tristan’s worst lap, classical music fans may be interested to learn that some pieces appear to promote too deep a state of relaxation to be listened to when behind the wheel.”

Tim, IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy, added: “What is clear is that the ferocious thrash metal really reduced the ability of the driver to get around the track smoothly. That, and high-energy dance music, are designed to be felt as well as heard, and to be listened to at volume. It’s clear neither help when it comes to making exacting driving manoeuvres.

“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!”

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