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'Safety music' could make the difference on the road

Sunday - 9/1/2013, 5:17pm  ET

Could 'safety music' improve driving?

WTOP's John Aaron reports

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WASHINGTON - Scanning through the iPod or fumbling with the radio is sure to cause a few distractions behind the wheel, but the kind of music you listen to while driving could make a difference, too.

A new study finds that teenage drivers who listened to their own music drove more aggressively and made more mistakes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But drivers who listened to soft music - or none at all - made fewer errors while driving.

A research team at Ben-Gurion University in Israel put 85 drivers, most who were 18 years old, through six driving tests. A driving instructor joined them on all tests, which were about 40 minutes long. During four of the trips, music was played - two with music from the drivers' own playlists and two with background music, usually light, instrumental jazz and vocals. No music was played during two trips.

When drivers chose their own music, 98 percent made a mistake behind the wheel. Without music, 92 percent made errors. When listening to background music designed to minimize driving distractions, 77 percent made errors.

Data recorders in the cars tracked driver behavior and any mistakes they made during the trips. Drivers rated their moods after each test.

The study also found that teenagers were more likely to listen to the "driver safe" background music at a lower volume.

WTOP's John Aaron contributed to this report. Follow @JohnAaronWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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