Friday, August 05, 2005

Jammin' on the interstate with Pachelbel

Just in case you haven't kept up with your back issues of the Eastern Daily Press, the Norfolk (UK) paper is reporting that new research indicates singing in the car may lead to safer driving. The study concludes that some songs help drivers become calmer and more relaxed behind the wheel. Nicola Dibben, the music psychologist who conducted the study, noted that music appeared to be more effective than talk radio (disappointing, but not surprising to any of us here in Public Radioland), conversation, or silence. Dibben's research also indicated that easy listening, classical, or indie/rock music were the most effective styles of music for encouraging safe driving.

The study suggests three songs as especially safe for driving: "They Can't Take That Away From Me", by Frank Sinatra, "Don't Cha Wanna Ride", by Joss Stone, and "Canon in D" by Johann Pachelbel. Especially hazardous for drivers are Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1", "Firestarter" by Prodigy, and "Kim", by Eminem.

In the Daily Press article, Dibben hypothesizes that songs with repetitive, easy-to-memorize lyrics appear to be the most useful in calming drivers (though apparently not quite as repetitive as "Pomp and Circumstance"). Dibben does not say whether drivers should make up their own lyrics to "Canon in D", or whether loud singing with the windows down also helps keep other drivers at a safe distance.

But the 19 Minutes staff, which confesses to putting more than a few drivers to sleep while pulling a radio shift or two, has some additional suggestions for music that could encourage safe driving habits:

Yodeling. You might exacerbate any cracks in your windshield, and you might not have a voice when you reach your destination, but to my knowledge, no one has ever fallen asleep while yodeling. And if you can drive with an alpenhorn, so much the better.

"Land of 1,000 Dances", by Cannibal and the Headhunters. It doesn't get much more repetitive than "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na".

The theme from "The Andy Griffith Show". It'll be stuck in your brain for the next week, but you'll get there safely.

"Tubular Bells", by Mike Oldfield. If thoughts of "The Exorcist" aren't enough to keep you awake, you need treatment for narcolepsy.

"We Got the Beat", by the Go-Gos. If you're a guy, you'll feel pretty dorky singing this at the top of your lungs, but not as dorky as you'll feel if you drive into the side of a parking garage.

And finally:

An audio test-tone. A sound that'll put even the most veteran singing voices to the test.

The 19 Minutes staff, however, plans to stick with its alpenhorn. But we're open to suggestions.

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