Yang and colleagues studied how the noises that people hear in highway tunnels influences their driving performance; their findings are likely relevant in other contexts. The investigators report on a driving simulation-based assessment that they conducted: “Five different sound scenarios were tested: original highway tunnel sound and a mix of it with four other sounds (slow music [72 beats per minute], fast music [96 beats per minute], voice prompt [woman’s voice], and siren, respectively). The subjects' physiological state and driving behavior data were collected through heart rate variability (HRV) and electroencephalography (EEG). . . . slow music was the best kind of sound related to driving comfort, while the siren sound produced the strongest driver reaction in terms of mental alertness and stress level. The voice-prompt sound most likely caused driver fatigue and overload, but it was the most effective sound affecting safety. The subjective opinion of the drivers indicated that the best sound scenario for the overall experience was slow music (63%), followed by fast music (21%), original highway tunnel sound environment (13%), and voice-prompt sound (3%).” All sounds were experienced at 70 dB.
Yanqun Yang, Yang Feng, Said Easa, Xiujing Yang, Jiang Liu, and Wei Lin. 2021. “Sound Effects on Physiological State and Behavior of Drivers in a Highway Tunnel.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.693005