You know that feeling you get while you’re playing a racing game like Burnout Paradise or Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit when you blaze through a track at top speed, weaving in and out of traffic without a scratch? That’s just a feeling. It’s not real.
I shouldn’t have to say that, but the Continental Tyres study suggests I might need to. The study polled 1000 gamers and 1000 non-gamers between the ages of 17 and 39 about their driving habits. Researchers discovered that video game driving enthusiasts are some of the most over-confident bastards on the road, without the skills to back up the cockiness.
Video game drivers are more likely to crash. They’re more likely to hit things while parking, or accidentally clip other cars. They tend to drive the wrong way down a one-way street more often, and regularly run red lights.
It’s not that video game drivers don’t possess basic driving skills. The study found that gaming drivers tend to pass their driver’s test after an average of two tries, while non-gamers take an average of three.
No, their downfall is their hubris. Continental Tyres safety expert Tim Bailey explains.
“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.”
No real consequence? Those achievements don’t earn themselves, sir!
It gets worse the more time driving game players spend behind the virtual wheel as well, with those that play more than 8 hours a day three times more likely to get into an accident than those that play for less than an hour on average.
One in five driving game players feels that the game time makes them a better driver. One look at this chart proves them wrong.
Tim Bailey and the Continental Tyres crew are planning to work with the Institute of Advanced Driving in the UK to independently access gamer’s driving skills, hopefully on an extremely closed course with armed guards surrounding the perimeter.