TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tis’ the season for jingles, jangles and…car crashes? Just before Christmas, plenty of drivers will be on the road and playing lots of tunes. But not all songs are safe, according to a university study on beats per minutes and dangerous driving.
A 2019 study by the South China University of Technology studied links between how many beats per minute were in a song, and how that impacted a driver’s ability to drive safely.
According to the study, “automobiles have been the most popular location, among others, for music listening” over the past decade. “In-vehicle music listening can induce not only entertainment but also as a stimulus to drivers. This can in turn help mitigate the boredoms and drowsiness of drivers.”
While music can help drivers stay awake on long-haul road trips, songs with 120 bpm were potentially more harmful. The study found that songs with higher tempos hurt drivers’ ability to focus, creating unsafe conditions.
“Being a competing stimulus to the driver, in-vehicle music listening could increase the driver’s mental workload, and thus impair the driving performance,” the study said.
The study also cited data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2001 survey of road crashes.
NHTSA’s research showed a quarter of road crashes were attributed to distracted drivers, through a combination of listening to music or talking with passengers as the main distractions.
Following the university study, Chill Insurance in Ireland chose to analyze popular holiday songs and rank them by fastest beats per minute. With that measurement, the company made a list of what they call the top 10 Christmas jingles that were most dangerous on the road.
The worst offender for possible danger? Frosty the Snowman. Check out the full list below.
- Gene Autry, ‘Frosty the Snowman’, 172 BPM
- Mariah Carey, ‘All I want For Christmas’, 150 BPM
- José Feliciano, ‘Feliz Navidad’, 149 BPM
- Jackson 5, ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’, 147 BPM
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, 146 BPM
- Frank Sinatra, ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’, 143 BPM
- Gene Autry, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, 142 BPM
- Wizzard, ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’, 140 BPM
- Judy Garland, ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, 137 BPM
- Jackson 5, ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’, 129 BPM
When it’s not the holiday season, the South China University study found that rock music was most dangerous due to its higher tempos and “high sound intensity.” Driver moods and temperaments also affected how music beats impact drivers, according to the study.