The most distracting driving songs revealed

Hannah Norton

Nov 13, 2023

Whether you’re a new driver or more experienced, sometimes driving means busy roads, dark nights, and potentially treacherous conditions. So, the last thing you need thrown into the mix is a catchy song taking your attention away from the road!

For many people, no road trip or long journey in the car is complete without a great playlist to listen to. But can certain songs have an impact on your ability to stay focused behind the wheel?

As experts in understanding how distracted driving could impact your car insurance policy, the team at Compare the Market Australia wanted to do their own research into the matter. Using songs from one of the top-ranking global Spotify playlists for ‘road trips’, each song was scored against four factors – BPM, energy score, danceability, and loudness.

Curious if any of your favourites aren’t appropriate for blasting out in the car? Just keep on reading for the results!

We also ran an analysis in Greece, to see what music could be most distracting for locals. You can view those results here.

Image showing the ten most distracting songs to listen to while driving.

Image showing the twenty most distracting songs to listen to while driving.

What are some of the most distracting songs?

Taking the top spot with a whopping distraction score of 78.76% is Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone. Whilst you might not recognise this one by the title, we’re certain you’ve had a dance to this classic from the 00s before. Scoring 4th highest for energy, drivers might have a hard time not getting carried away behind the wheel listening to this one.

Changing genre over to hip-hop, the second most distracting song according to our research is Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z scoring 78.37%. Whilst it’s not one of the most danceable numbers on the list, it managed to rank highest for loudness and 11th for energy which both helped to bring its score up.

Next up with a total distraction score of 77.80% is Pump It by the Black Eyed Peas. As it scored near the top for loudness, it might be worth monitoring the volume if this song ever comes on your playlist in the car.

Not too far behind in fourth is Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by Michael Jackson, totalling a score of 77.11%. What might be surprising to some is that this song actually scored a lot higher compared to some of his other popular hits including Beat It (76.13), P.Y.T. (74.63), Billie Jean (71.55), and Thriller (70.12) to name a few.

Rounding out the top five most distracting songs is the most recent hit of them all with a score of 76.59%: Meghan Trainor’s 2014 debut single, All About That Bass. With its catchy chorus, it’s perhaps no surprise that drivers could end up losing focus when this is being played through the speakers.

What about the least distracting songs?

Aside from those you might want to consider ditching, we’ve also uncovered the tracks that are probably safe to keep as part of your playlist.

A family favourite, the Circle of Life by Carmen Twillie, is found to have the lowest distraction score of all the songs included in the study at 18.91%. In fact, the soundtrack song ranks amongst the bottom 20 for most of the factors – loudness, danceability, and energy.

Gaining a distraction score of just 21.20%, Eric Clapton’s famous song, Wonderful Tonight, isn’t one that drivers will likely find a bother. Looking further into the data, its position near the bottom is probably due to having the lowest energy score out of the entire index at 21.

Brothers In Arms by the British rock band Dire Straits is found to be the third least distracting driver song with a score of 22.77%. Given that the song is about war, it’s perhaps no surprise to discover that it’s also the least danceable song and has a particularly slow BPM of 76.

Onto another moving track, this time a charity song, We Are the World manages to gain a score of only 24.93%. This is largely thanks to its BPM of 73 which gives it the fifth slowest tempo of all the songs included in our research.

Last but not least, To Love Somebody, released in 1967 by the Bee Gees, takes the remaining spot in our five least distracting songs scoring 25.05%.

General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market Australia, Adrian Taylor, says: “Once you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and stay safe. This includes being conscious of the type of music you’re playing, and whether it could cause you to lose concentration.

“Getting lost in the music could lead to risky driving behaviours, such as speeding without realising or missing important road cues. And what many people fail to realise, is that a bad driving history and record of offences can impact the cost of your policy.

“By engaging in safe road behaviours and maintaining a clean driving record, you can get the most out of a car insurance policy.”

If you are in the market for car insurance in Australia, try our free online comparison tool to help find a product that is right for you.

It is also important to read the PDS to understand the limits, exclusions or restrictions of any given policy.



Spotify API song analysis tool (Sort your music):

Spotify playlist:

Sort Your Music lets you sort your playlist based on a number of Spotify’s song attributes including:

  • Beats Per Minute (BPM) – The higher the value, the quicker the song.
  • Energy – The higher the value, the more energetic the song.
  • Danceability – The higher the value, the easier it is to dance to the song.
  • Loudness – The higher the value, the louder the song.

Using Spotify data, we analysed the most popular driving playlist (over 500 songs) and scored them against each of the four categories.

Each factor was given a score from 0 to 1, and these were then averaged together and written as a percentage to get the overall distraction score.