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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do video gamers make lousy drivers?

Do video gamers make lousy drivers?

People who regularly play driving games are poorer drivers, according to a study by Continental Tyres.

Researchers found motorists who play on driving games such as Need for Speed and Formula 1 are more likely to crash, run a red light and are less successful at carrying out every day manoeuvres.

They are more likely to attempt risky manoeuvres, suffer from road rage and be stopped by the police.

And they are considered "over-confident" by non-gamers and a potential risk because they might repeat their virtual driving approach in the real world. 

Tim Bailey, safety expert for Continental Tyres which carried out the study, said: “This is an interesting piece of research. It seems that while gamers develop useful skills and are more confident, they need to apply some balance with a sensible assessment of risk.

“Playing computer driving games means good concentration levels and improved reaction times, however, they can take more risks than non-gaming drivers, possibly due to the lack of real consequences in games.

“The most important issues for driving safely are concentration, an appreciation of road and vehicle conditions and an awareness of potential risks. Clearly driving games can develop these skills but that has to be balanced – driving on public roads is never a race.”

The study of 2,000 motorists consisted of 1,000 gamers and non-gamers aged between 17 and 39 and quizzed them on their driving habits and attitudes.

It found while gamers think they are better behind the wheel, in reality they are far from it. They rated their driving skill at an average of six out of 10 compared to non-gamers’ five.

And they also claimed to have quicker reaction times, better anticipation of events and greater understanding of the car’s dynamics – such as gear changes and cornering.

However, when quizzed further, they tend to speed more often, claim on their insurance more regularly and believe that any problem can be solved by resetting their game.

Peter Rodger, Institute of Advanced Motorists chief examiner, said: "I am not surprised that regular gamers find themselves making the same decisions and judgements when driving for real as they do when in the virtual world. The issue is that when actually driving, our actions lead to 'real' results, and mistakes have very real consequences."

Gamers also appear worse parkers having crashed into more stationary objects and are twice as likely to scare others with their antics on the road.

It also emerged that the longer they spend  on games like Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo each week, the worse they are behind the wheel.

Those who play for more than eight hours a week have been in three times as many accidents as someone who plays for less than one hour.

But non-gamers didn’t emerge completely squeaky clean in the report.

It revealed those who don’t pick up a games controller take at least one more attempt on average before passing their test and have caused twice as many prangs to their vehicle in the last year.

“We are not leaving it at that though,” said Bailey, “We are working with the Institute of Advanced Motorists to put gamers through their paces and have their driving independently assessed. It will be interesting to see those results.”

One in five gamers said it makes them a better driver and more than half would be confident to teach a learner driver compared to 21 per cent of non-gamers.

But just 16 per cent of motorists were in agreement that playing driving games makes someone a better driver, while four in 10 said video games contribute to reckless driving.

And only seven per cent of drivers believed driving games help you become more alert in real life and assess risk more accurately.

SOURCE: Star Motoring



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