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Research Proves DJ Drivers Are All Going to Die

It's time for us all to admit that driving and the "I Want A Song To Exactly Fit My Mood" disposition don't mix.

Most of the many times I’ve almost died driving were a result of fiddling with the car stereo. 21st century mp3 ADD is fine with me, but, at least according to a new study, it’s dangerous as hell when you’re holding a sandwich and deciding between softie indie rock, that awesome old Woody Allen record, or maybe some gangsta rap, all while going 80mph in a several-ton flammable steel killing machine.


One time I ran a red light and almost got in an accident with the sheriff of Poughkeepsie NY, all because I was too busy struggling to find which track number was that great Neil Young song with the “Marlon Brando” lyric (it was #4) to focus on my surroundings. It’s time for us all to admit that driving and the “I Want A Song To Exactly Fit My Mood” disposition don’t mix.

In a recently published report in the journal Human Factors, John Lee and his team used a driving simulation to show that scrolling your mp3 player while you're driving makes you a drive like a drunk old granny. According to the report, over 90% of new cars come equipped for iPods or other similar mp3 devices, and many have their own built in mp3 players and libraries. The team found that drivers performed considerably worse in the driving simulation when they were told to scan around their mp3 playlist, not only by looking away from the road more often and for longer stretches, but showing high stats in categories like "deviation of lane position," which sounds vaguely important. The authors conclude:

Tasks with high visual, manual, and cognitive demand, such as searching through long play-lists on an MP3 player, lead to long glances away from the road and substantial degradation in driving performance.

To make matters worse, long playlists are exceptionally hazardous. This is disconcerting because I have playlists that are 500 songs worth of 70s music and sometimes I just fucking need to drive to Kraftwerk:

Playlist length is a key design attribute that influences the degree of interference with driving. Long playlists (580 songs) produced the greatest interference with driving, whereas few differences were found between short playlist, medium playlist, radio tuning, and no-task conditions.

I assume that, eventually, some Siri-like computer person will indulge our ADD musical whimsies so we can focus on safely driving our beloved killing machines. Until then, let's ditch the 500-song über-car-playlist and listen to albums straight fucking through, just like the old, safe days of lax seatbelt laws, no airbags, DDT, and "duck and cover."