The impact of music on vehicular performance: A meta-analysis

Barbara Millet, Soyeon Ahn, Juan Chattah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Various studies offer insightful perspectives on the potential impact of music-listening on driving performance. These studies, however, present conflicting views on the effect of music as either hindering or enhancing driving performance and advance inconclusive claims regarding how and to what extent specific music parameters affect vehicular performance. In this study, therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of relevant studies. First, we identified experimental studies that measured the effects of music-listening on driving performance through database searches using multiple variants including “car” “driv*” “perf*” and “music*”; of the 118 publications reviewed, 12 met the inclusion criteria for the current meta-analysis. Second, we coded independent variables—i.e., tempo, volume, instrumentation, familiarity, musical style, the music's source, and whether music was selected by the researchers or the drivers—and dependent variables—i.e., vehicular longitudinal and lateral control, driver reaction time, traffic signal violations, collisions, and driving scores. Third, we ran mixed-effects and random-effects models to identify both general tendencies and more particular trends related to the effect of music-listening on driving performance—driving performance is here understood as the combination of vehicle manipulation and road navigation. Consistent with anecdotal evidence, the results of this meta-analysis show that music-listening has a statistically significant detrimental effect on driving performance, specifically for collisions and longitudinal control. In contrast with anecdotal evidence, however, the results of this meta-analysis show a detrimental effect associated with music-listening at soft volumes and no significant difference in driving performance associated with tempo. The study's findings contributed to the development of a process model, and the concluding discussion offers suggestions for future empirical investigations related to music and driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-760
Number of pages18
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Driving
  • Meta-analysis
  • Music
  • Vehicular performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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