Before you drive across the country, here's a handy formula for building a playlist that won't have you zooming like a maniac:
"The optimum tempo of a song for safe driving should mimic the human heartbeat.
This is around 60 to 80 beats per minute."
That's the clinical advice given by Simon Moore, a psychiatry professor in London who was involved in a recent UK study designed to pinpoint which music makes you gun it ("Hey Mama," by the Black Eyed Peas, apparently), and which keeps you remembering to check your blind spot (an innocuous mix of Coldplay, Norah Jones and Bruno Mars singles).
The study, published at Confused.com, tracked four men and four women on solitary 500-mile drives, with the help of a phone app that monitored their driving behavior. After a quiet 250 miles, the drivers spent the second half of the trip listening to playlists representing a specific genre (e.g., dance music or hip hop). The conclusion? Speed really matters. Music of a certain pace -- even classical music -- seemed to trigger more reckless driving, while "heartbeat" songs did not.
And what of aggressive lyrics, so often blamed for corrupting young minds? Inconsequential, according to the researchers, except, of course, when paired with a sick beat. Same with genre: the full list of "dangerous" tracks comprises artists of all sensibilities, from M.I.A. to Johnny Cash. Scroll down for a video playlist of the worst tracks to drive to, according to the study.
If you're curious, there's video footage of the test subjects doing their drives below. The whole thing looks oddly unpleasant, especially for the classical music girl, who does a fair impression of a Chinese water torture victim:
Lara Crombie at Prefix points out a troubling link between all of Moore's "safe" songs -- Coldplay's "The Scientist," "Come Away With Me" by Norah Jones, and Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." "These artists will help you not kill people or yourself," she writes, "so long as you don't perish from sheer boredom."
Fair point! Might not these heartbeat songs, unobtrusive as they are to the human system, put a driver to sleep? So come on readers: help one of the world's many car owners out. Can someone please suggest (or -- why not? -- write!) a song timed 60 to 80 beats per minute that isn't so, well, safe?