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Driving Trivia

What are the most distracting driving songs?

January 31, 2024

3 min read

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Leon McKenzie

Content Writer

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Who doesn’t love those driving classics? Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, a bit of Elton John — it wouldn’t be a road trip without them. But are they really what you need when you’re behind the wheel?

For new and learner drivers, winter driving means busy roads, dark nights and the potential for treacherous conditions. What you don’t need is a distracting song or playlist thrown in the mix too...

To find out what you should (or shouldn’t) be listening to when you’re on the road this winter, we set about uncovering the most and least distracting driving songs — with the help of Spotify data. Here’s what we found.

The top 5 most and least distracting songs

These are the driving songs to add to your playlist or dump from your driving favourites this winter.

Our top five least distracting songs will keep you serene, calm and with your eyes fixed on the road — whatever the wintery conditions thrown your way.

But what about our top five most distracting? Well, they definitely aren’t the ideal accompaniment for winter driving.

So, how did we work it out? Here comes the technical bit:

Using Spotify data we analysed the 20 most popular driving playlists (combing 4,185 songs) and scored them against three categories. Energy score, danceability score, and valence score (that’s how emotionally charged they are).

Songs with a high distraction score have high energy and are emotionally charged, but with low danceability. The last factor means it has an irregular beat or tempo. This is how we got our scores:

  • We worked out the energy score by taking the top 50% of high energy songs as scored by Spotify and plotted their scores between 0 and 1.
  • We calculated the danceability score using Spotify’s danceability score minus 1. This meant that high danceability songs were given a score close to 0.
  • Finally, we gave each song a valence score using the distance between 0.5 and Spotify’s own valence score. More emotionally charged songs (whether positive or negative) are given a score close to 1.

These were then averaged together to get the overall distraction score.

Finally, using the Spotify API's popularity score, we looked only at the songs with a popularity of 80+ to pull the top 50 lists. This means only the most played songs were included.

Top 50 most distracting songs 

When it comes to high energy, poor danceability and too much emotion, these are the rest of your top 50 most distracting driving songs.

Top 50 least distracting songs

But for those that tick the right boxes when it comes to their energy levels, emotion and danceability, these are the rest of the top 50 least distracting driving songs.

The perfect driving playlist

To make your winter driving as smooth as possible this year, we’ve created our very own tailored Spotify playlist. Featuring songs with a distraction score of less than 50%, it will keep your mood up without affecting your concentration levels – whether you’re driving to the countryside for a winter walk, heading out for a Valentine’s date or simply driving home from work.

Winter driving tips from the experts  

It isn’t just music which can affect driving at this time of the year. In winter, roads will be icy, snow will probably be forecast, and you can bet that come 4pm it’ll already be dark. And that’s not forgetting the odd foggy morning too.

So, to make sure you stay safe behind the wheel this winter, here are our essential and expert driving tips

  • Keep your distance: Stopping distances can double on wet surfaces (and even worse on ice or snow)
  • Check your tyres: Make sure your tread depth is a minimum of 1.6mm and consider getting Winter tyres before the freeze sets in!
  • Check your lights: With short days and long nights, you’ll be relying on your car’s lights more than ever
  • Staying warm: Keep a blanket or spare coat in the car in case you breakdown and need to wait for roadside recovery  
  • Use a higher gear in icy conditions: Higher gear = greater control over your car. If you’re struggling to pull off in the snow, try using the second gear

Stay safe on the roads this winter 

With no distracting music and an increased awareness of road safety this winter, you’ll be well on your way to winter driving like a pro.

And for those looking to learn to drive at this time of year, with PassMeFast you’ll benefit from our intensive driving courses to take your test quicker and get you on the road faster. With our network of expert DVSA-approved instructors, you’ll learn from the best. Learn more about our fast-track beginner and refresher courses

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