Could Katy Perry make you a safer van driver?

Motivation and fun

23 December 2015

Drivers could be forgiven for giving up on Katy Perry after her strict touring rules were leaked in 2011, revealing that her chauffeurs aren’t allowed to look at her when she’s in their car. However, it turns out the pop diva’s up-tempo hits might have been helping drivers all along.

The latest studies show that listening to music can keep you alert and in a positive mood, reducing the likelihood of accidents – but only if it’s music you like.

In 2014, scientists in the US performed a series of MRI scans on volunteers while they listened to different types of music. The results showed that playing songs the participants liked would activate a part of the brain called the ‘default mode network’, which helps us switch our attention between our thoughts and what’s going on around us. In short, good music helps us stay aware and think quickly.

We consulted Dr. Don Knox, an expert music psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University, who agreed with the findings: "Listening to our favourite music, loud or quiet, can increase our engagement in activities like driving and can enhance enjoyment, performance and accuracy."

So, how does Katy Perry rate with the nation's van drivers? We surveyed hundreds of van drivers across the UK* to find their top ‘vanthems’ and found that Katy Perry’s feel-good song 'Roar' was just one favourite in a top 40 list packed with upbeat classics to lift drivers’ moods.

Other popular hits included one of the UK’s most-streamed track this year, ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, as well as classics like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, which both made it into the top 10. However, the number one ‘vanthem’ was, of course, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen.

Our survey also found that 73% of van drivers get their music fix from listening to the radio when driving for work, while 36% listen to CDs and a tiny minority of 6% are still jamming along to much-loved cassette tapes.

Regardless of their technology choice, 72% of van drivers say they regularly sing along to their favourite songs – and they seem to be channelling this positive energy into safer driving. Our research into injury crashes from 2008-2012 found that, compared to other motorists, van drivers are:

  1. 74% less likely to have an accident due to nervous driving (hesitating, stalling, wobbling or wavering)
  2. 29% less likely to make control errors
  3. 20% less likely to crash due to speeding
  4. 83% less likely to crash at a roundabout
  5. 13% less likely to be involved in an accident on an urban road


Darrell Sansom, Managing Director here at AXA Business Insurance, recommends keeping the head-banging to a minimum if you want to keep that record though, saying: “Our advice would be to enjoy but to keep the music in your van at a level where you can still hear what’s going on around you… and to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road!”

Find out more about keeping your van on the road with van insurance from AXA Business Insurance.

We asked tradespeople to tell us about their favourite 'vanthem'...

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