Gamers and 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. They are also 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 intresting piece of research. It seems that while gamers develop useul skills and are more confident, they need to apply some balance with a sensible assessment of risk."

"Playing computer driving games means good concerntration levels and improved reaction times, however, they can take more risk that non-gaming drivers, possibly due to lack of real concequences in games."

"The most impoetant issues for driving safely are concerntration, an appreciation of road and vehicle contitions and an awareness of potential risk. 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 17-39 were quizzed 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-gamer's five.

Peter Rodger, Institute of Advanced Motorists chief examiner said, "I am not surprised that regular gamers find themselves making the same decisions and judgments when driving for real as they do when in the vietual 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 Turismo and Grand Theft Auto 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 taht those who don't pick up a games controller take at least one more attempt on average before passing their test and have cause twice as many prangs to their vehicle.

"We are not leaving it at that though," said Bailey. "We are working with the Institute of Advanced Motorist to pt 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% of non-gamers.