Of Booze and Beethoven

BeethovenNext month - March 2013 - we were all expected to have one of those ethylotests in our cars... or pay a fine. Back last summer the date to get your vehicle fitted out was set for November. Then it was pushed back by four months. And now Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said the project is "in suspense". He's awaiting the outcome of a rethink by the National Council on Bad Safety (CNSR). Explained Council chairman Armand Jung, "Reliability, distribution, price... we've got to look again at everything." Eventually, though, the obligated DUI-detector will be back. Insists Jung, "It's a way of making a real impact on the drink and driving problem."

So where does old Ludwig come in to the road safety issue? Well, studies at London's Metropolitan University have shown that his 5th Symphony is among works least suitable for listening to at the wheel. It's one of a number of classical pops - including Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D and Strauss's Blue Danube that get listeners driving more erratically. Best for safer driving were calmer non-classical tracks such as Come Away With Me by Norah Jones and Tiny Dancer by Elton John.

According to the researchers who came up with these conclusions, the optimum tempo for musical ICE - in-car entertainment - is 60 to 80 beats a minute; exciting stuff like Bach's Toccata and Fugue can lead to a foot on the pedal… and A and E.