Until the day that all cars are driven by robots, one of the biggest causes of car accidents will be the emotional humans inside: All the safety features in your car won’t help you drive better if you’re distracted, or enraged by the person who just cut you off. But something that might help is music—like this mix commissioned by a European car rental company specifically to improve your mood on the road.
Based on the latest research about how music can help us focus or relax, Sounds for Driving includes seven newly composed tracks for specific scenarios drivers face on the road, from traffic jams and city streets to long road trips and driving at night.
“We were inspired by the power of music, and how different sounds are able to stimulate various parts of the human brain to create chemical substances," says Petter Rudwall from Wenderfalck, a Swedish creative agency that worked on the project along with Europcar. "We knew that the car industry is trying to make the car itself as safe as possible. This has been the case for many years, so we asked ourselves, is there another way to achieve the same outcome?"
Composer Håkan Lidbo worked with researcher Martin Ljungdahl Eriksson, who specializes in the effect of music on the brain, to create each song. For driving in the city, for example, Lidbo composed a track with a steady and fast beat, based on studies showing that a particular rhythm can help people concentrate in complex situations.
A study last year found that listening to soothing music can reduce road rage: After switching to a calm song, drivers quickly felt less stressed, and were less likely to speed or swerve between lanes. On the other hand, music that's a little too upbeat can have the opposite effect, making you drive faster and take more risks. Lidbo's new songs aim to find the right balance, though there's a catch—if the songs don't happen to be to your taste, that can actually make you drive poorly.