Study: Racing games help players learn to drive... just not safely

According to a new study from British tire manufacturer Continental Tyres, people who play videogames are more likely to pass their driving test. However, that might not be a good thing - the study also shows that they're also more likely to end up in a wreck.

In the study, which polled 1000 gamers and 1000 non-gamers, more people on the gamer side said they have been in a crash. They also took the higher score in all of these categories:

- Hitting objects while parking
- Accidentally bumping or clipping another car
- Going the wrong way on a one-way street
- Using a mobile phone while driving
- Being stopped by police
- Speeding

And we've just barely begun. Yes, there were more gamers than non-gamers in every one of the dangerous driving habit categories in the survey. But check out the ones that gamers were more than twice as likely to do than non-gamers:

- Scaring others while driving
- Suffering road rage
- Taking risks
- Running a red light

"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," said Continental Tyres safety expert Tim Bailey.

So not only are we violent murderers, we're bad drivers too?! Dammit, we just can't get a break. Or brake, apparently. But who knows, maybe there's something to this survey? Ever go for a drive after a long session of Need for Speed or Mario Kart?

The tire company said it plans to continue this line of research.

Jan 31, 2011


  • D0CCON - February 1, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    I could see that mainly because of NFS or Burnout. I'm wondering if looking at people who solely play sim racers would produce different results. I live in Wisconsin and have to get used to winter driving and I believe Forza actually made it easier for me. I learned to counter-steer in Forza well before I had to counter-steer in the snow (and while the two aren't identical, they are actually really similar, especially with my racing wheel). Forza actually helped with a couple of questions on my driving test, like what does ABS mean.
  • TheSokDrawer - February 1, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    At least this is a piece of anti-gaming research that makes sense...
  • TheUsernameYouSelectedIsAvailable - February 1, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    They say "Gamer" as opposed to "GT or Forza expert", so I think it has more to do with the type of person who plays games, as opposed to games instilling this type of behavior. If you enjoy fast paced action gaming you probably enjoy driving fast and acting a bit reckless... where as if you enjoy playing scrabble and reading butterfly collectos quarterly you probably dont own a turbo charged drifter and drive quite sensibly. Also would like to see the age range on the target groups... I certainly drove like a chop in my younger years. Thankfully for my insurance that seems to have clamed down a bit :D
  • FunnyNameHere - February 1, 2011 7:31 a.m.

    I just finished and playing NFS and I need my spike strip for this guy who is tailgating me..
  • Spybreak8 - February 1, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    What you don't get extra "points" for hitting pedestrians!? ^^ I've spun a few times in snow and thanks to rally games counter steered back to driving again. On snow the main key to remember, gentle movements, no jerking the wheel unless you want to be off the road.
  • it_burns - February 1, 2011 5:38 a.m.

    Really now? And here I was, thinking racing games made people racists.
  • bmrskate - February 1, 2011 3:02 a.m.

    @AirickG: Or extra tips in Crazy Taxi!
  • AirickG - February 1, 2011 2:13 a.m.

    @overlord153: To earn more boost, duh...
  • bmrskate - February 1, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    I call bullshit on this. My gamer friends and I (who are into racing simulators) have never been in wrecks AND never get any tickets! In fact, I'm convinced we're the safest considering we actually mastered manual transmissions and don't drive while smoking a cig, while reading a book, while playing with our hair, while putting on make-up, while pulling out nose hairs, while holding the phone, while eating a sandwich, while abusing the kids in the backseat, while holding the wheel with our knees... You want to make the roads safer? Make everyone master a manual transmission, OR THEY CANNOT DRIVE. Maybe if you didn't play racing sims at all, then that would fit in with this study. But, nahhh they aren't smart enough to factor in people who are in to proper racing sims, are they?
  • d0x - February 1, 2011 1:24 a.m.

    Driving games have been one of my fav genres for as long as I can remember. im 28 years old, a male, i drive a sports car and I have never been in a car accident, I have never hit an object moving or stationary, ive only run 1 red light and it was by accident, yes ive had road rage but so has every human to ever drive...who doesnt get angry when someone does something stupid? I dont talk on my phone while driving, ive never bumped or scraped another car or object and Im not really sure what taking risks means. Do video games make a better driver? I think so. Do they make people more reckless? I highly doubt it. Im an aggressive drive but im a good driver. Ive read plenty of studies that say defensive drivers and people who stick strictly to speed limits cause more accidents than people who drive aggressively and go the speed of average traffic flow.
  • bilstar - February 1, 2011 12:59 a.m.

    Continental's being a little critical isn't it? Surely us gamers, trying to achieve our x24 drift multiplier MEGA CHAIN COMBOS!!, round our local streets are going to be using up a lot of rubber? Which we can buy from them? Keep us sweet, fools. Drive safe.
  • Eliath - February 1, 2011 12:18 a.m.

    My parents hired a driving teacher for me to help cut down on the insurance cost. He made the comment that students that played games not just racing games were always better and faster studies than those that didn't in his experience.
  • tomthespesh - January 31, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    I'm a big fan of racing games and they're one reason as to why I'm training to be a mechanic. I passed my driving test first time with not a single minor (fault) but I've never crashed or hit my car, but that may be because I had 2 years on a motorbike before my car. As for road rage I do get that and I find scaring people fun! But I'm twisted like that.
  • Overlord153 - January 31, 2011 11:56 p.m.

    How the hell do you go down the wrong way on a One Way street. Don't you see the sign with an arrow pointing in the opposite direction of the way you're driving.
  • Markstone - January 31, 2011 11:53 p.m.

    I disagree, GTA has taught me how to drive in real life like a pro :P
  • StrayGator - January 31, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    Genuine scary stuff. My advice: When in doubt, conjure a driving tester and do as he says.
  • kingdom - January 31, 2011 11:47 p.m.

    Just gonna also say there are more young gamers than older folks and younger drivers are almost always the ones more likely to get into some form of an accident, I would like to see a bit more information here about who was polled and if the gamers polled even played racing games. I personally detest racing sims (probably because I am terrible at them but oh well...) but am an avid gamer otherwise. Bit misleading IMO but I guess most studies of this nature tend to be when they are quoted to the public as another condemnation of gaming (here's looking at you politicians).
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - January 31, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    Ha I bet that's actually true.

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