The van driver’s stress-free driving playlist

The perfect playlist to reduce stress while driving: revealed


18 March 2019

With more vans on the road than ever before adding to congestion on already crowded streets, it’s unsurprising that 20% of UK drivers have reported feeling stress behind the wheel.

Traffic, roadworks and the pressure of driving all day for work can all contribute to rising stress levels, meaning a day in the life of the average van driver isn’t always a smooth ride.

That’s why we want to help the UK’s van drivers to keep calm and carry on while in their vans.

Some studies have shown that a good way to keep the stress at bay while driving long distances is by listening to relaxing music. So read on to find out how to set the right mood when you’re behind the wheel with AXA’s guide to the most stress-reducing driving music.

Why so stressful?

Whether it’s driving at peak times in congested areas, being stuck in traffic on the way to work or the next job, or work and personal problems adding to your tension levels on the road, driving can seriously impact your stress levels, whether you drive a little or a lot for your job.

Added to this is the fact that drivers are spending longer and longer behind the wheel – meaning a greater chance for stress to grab hold.

The health effects of stress are well known, from making you physically unwell and affecting your emotions to not being able to concentrate – a big issue for drivers who need to focus on the road.

In our study into driving habits*, congestion (50%), roadworks (44%) and the actions of other drivers (41%) were all found to be the main causes of stress among our driving audience. But what can drivers do to manage these stressful situations?

In our study, 59% of respondents said they manage stress while driving by listening to music, while 29% said they relieve the tension through ‘car-aoke’ – singing along to the radio while behind the wheel. So how far can music go to influence your driving habits?

How music impacts your driving

According to our study, when driving for work 73% of people listen to music on the radio, 37% of people listen to talk radio, 36% listen to CDs, while only 5% listen to audiobooks

And in terms of the music they’re listening to, 48% prefer pop, 45% like to rock out, and 40% kick back with some easy listening. And the favourite driving songs came in as Bohemian Rhapsody, Sweet Child o Mine, Sweet Home Alabama, Layla, and Wonderwall.

But how is this music having an effect on your driving habits?

Music with faster tempos, such as dance or fast rock, can cause people to speed. Hip hop music, on the other hand, has been shown to cause drivers to brake and accelerate more suddenly than other drivers.

But the findings aren’t always cut and dry. In one study, rock music was found to increase the likelihood of a crash, while also playing a role in increasing driver reaction times. So with this conflicting information, how do you choose the right music for your journey?

What’s the ideal driving music?

According to one London University study, choosing the ideal driving music all comes down to what’s in your heart.

The study found that choosing music which matches a person’s resting heart rate (usually around 60 to 80 beats per minute), can have a positive impact on driving habits. At this moderate tempo, a driver’s adrenaline is not being affected by the music, so they aren’t as susceptible to spikes in aggression associated with heavy rock music or the need for speed associated with upbeat dance.

Easy listening, soft rock, classical or ‘background music’ was found to soothe mood and encourage safer driving. So if you feel yourself tensing or becoming increasingly irritated with other drivers (which can be a cause of aggressive driving), switch off the rock radio for a more laid back track.

Pump up the volume?

Roadworks, car horns and other traffic noises are a sure-fire way of raising your heart rate and stress levels when you’re behind the wheel.

Environmental noises such as these can have a distracting effect, while music has been shown to take the driver’s mind off of those stress-inducing (and headache-inducing) noise distractions.

However, it’s important to avoid simply blaring the volume to drown out the din. Listening to loud music while driving can also impair a driver’s ability to properly control their vehicle. And while police officers don’t have the power to pull a car over for the volume of their music, they can penalise drivers if they believe the music is loud enough to be a distraction.

It can carry a fine of £100 and three penalty points on the driver’s license.

What AXA is doing to help

We want to make it simple for you to relax while on the road. That’s why we love this Totally Stress Free playlist from Spotify to help you keep calm while you carry on driving.

So before you hit the road just load up our peaceful playlist, pop your device in a hands-free cradle and enjoy a stress-free journey on us.

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