The ultimate de-stress driving anthem: revealed

De-stress driving anthem

Transport and logistics

16 June 2015

Traffic jams, road works and diversions: driving can be stressful at the best of times. And for those who spend a large part of the working day driving a van between jobs – like skilled tradesmen – the pressure can be even higher.

Tight schedules are one of the biggest sources of stress for at-work drivers in Britain, France, Germany and Spain. According to one survey, 37% of those who admitted speeding blamed 'pressure to meet schedules' as the reason for hitting the accelerator.

Increased stress is linked with higher crash rates, which is why it's so important for the nation's van drivers to beat stress and boost concentration. Fortunately, there's an unorthodox solution that's proven to help: pumping out your favourite driving anthems.

Music and mood

In a survey of UK van drivers*, we found that 59% listen to music specifically to reduce stress while they’re on the road, and 29% indulge in car-aoke to relieve the stresses and strains of driving.

We spoke to music psychologist Dr Don Knox from Glasgow Caledonian University to find out how a bit of stereo therapy can help drivers de-stress. According to Dr Knox, it's all down to a process called 'emotional contagion' – suggesting that catchy songs really are catchy. "The positive emotions expressed in the favoured music will have a positive emotional effect on the driver, and so can help reduce the stress associated with driving for a living."

Rocking around the clock

Interestingly, when asked about their favourite tunes, UK van drivers showed a marked preference towards classic rock, with the likes of ‘Back in Black’ (AC/DC), ‘Don't Stop Believing’ (Journey) and ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ (Bruce Springsteen) all featuring in the list of top 10 ‘vanthems’.

Dr Knox suggests that a love of rock may simply be hard-wired into van drivers' personalities: "Rock music fans tend toward being open to new experiences, and are more physically active and extroverted. They might also want to be seen as tough and rebellious, and express this through their music preferences."

And, while you might expect loud, up-tempo guitar tracks to provide the perfect fuel for road rage, the reverse is actually true. A recent study by the University of Queensland found that ‘extreme’ music like heavy metal, punk or screamo helps to combat stress by matching the listener’s anger and helping them process it, with the result that "levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after music was introduced".

Guitar heroes

After all this science, one question remains: which track topped our ‘vanthem’ poll? Here's a look at the top ten tracks selected in our survey of UK van drivers:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen 
  2. Sweet Child O' Mine – Guns N’ Roses 
  3. Wonderwall – Oasis 
  4. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynard Skynard 
  5. Layla – Eric Clapton
  6. Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen
  7. Don’t Stop Believin’ - Journey
  8. Thriller - Michael Jackson
  9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
  10. Back in Black - AC/DC

Of course, while listening to music can be a positive de-stressing tactic, it's important to keep the volume to a reasonable level, stay focused on the road and dance responsibly – unless you want to become a viral sensation like this Taylor Swift-loving US police officer.

Stay cool on the road with van insurance from AXA Business Insurance.

We asked tradespeople to tell us about their favourite ‘vanthem’.

*AXA Business Insurance survey, March 2015 (310 UK van drivers)