Lip-synching to your favorite tune on the car radio is a rite of passage for every driver. Now, a new Israeli study shows that teenagers need to take extra care when listening to their preferred music while driving as it causes them to err on the road.

The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study evaluated 85 young novice drivers accompanied by a researcher/driving instructor. Each driver took six challenging 40-minute trips; two with music from their own playlists; two with background music designed to increase driver safety (easy listening, soft rock, light jazz), and two additional trips without any music.

BGU Director of Music Science Research Warren Brodsky and researcher Zack Slor found that male novice drivers make more frequent and serious mistakes listening to their preferred music than their less aggressive, female counterparts.

When the teen drivers listened to their preferred music, 98 percent demonstrated an average of three deficient driving behaviors in at least one of the trips. Nearly a third of those (32 percent) required a sudden verbal warning or command for action, and 20 percent needed an assisted steering or braking maneuver to prevent an imminent accident. These errors included speeding, tailgating, careless lane switching, passing vehicles and one-handed driving.

“Most drivers worldwide prefer to listen to music in a car and those between ages 16 to 30 choose driving to pop, rock, dance, hip-hop and rap,” Brodsky explains. “Young drivers also tend to play this highly energetic, fast-paced music very loudly – approximately 120 to 130 decibels.

“Drivers in general are not aware that as they get drawn-in by a song, they move from an extra-personal space involving driving tasks, to a more personal space of active music listening.”

The Israel National Road Safety Authority funded the study. The research findings will be published in the October issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention.