A Performance Analysis of In-Car Music Engagement as an Indication of Driver Distraction and Risk

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20 Scopus citations


Drivers engage in a host of driving-unrelated tasks while on the road. They listen to music, sing-along, and accompany songs by pounding-out drum-kicks and syncopated rhythms on the steering wheel. However, there is controversy over in-cabin music: Does background music facilitate driver performance via increased arousal leading to more focused concentration, or cause distraction placing drivers at greater risk. In an effort to shed light on the debate, the current study evaluated music engagement by employing Music Performance Analyses with audio recordings from three simulated driving conditions. The results indicate that as the perceptual demands of the primary driving task increased, the secondary music activity was hampered, and subsequently sub-optimal vocal and percussive performances were demonstrated consisting of intonation errors, rhythmic inaccuracy, lack of synchrony, inconsistent and unstable temporal flow, neglect of text, and lyric replacement. The findings seem to point out that drivers allocate greater reserves to music than previously considered, and as drivers do not withdraw altogether from music engagement under high-demand driving conditions, driving may be under-resourced. Exploring active music engagement while driving might assist traffic safety researchers in decoding the effects of In-Car Music on driver behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


  • Car-aoke
  • Distraction and inattention
  • In-Car Music
  • Secondary task
  • Simulated driving
  • Steering-wheel drumming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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