Gamers think they’re better drivers – but they’re not

Video gamers make rubbish drivers, according to a study by Continental Tyres – though they think they’re the bee’s knees.

Researchers found that motorists who play games such as Need for Speed

and Formula 1 are twice as likely to suffer from road rage, run a red light or be stopped by police. They’re also more dishonest, being nearly twice as likely to have clipped another car but kept quiet.

“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,” says Tim Bailey, safety expert for Continental Tyres.

“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 study involved quizzing 1,000 gamers and 1,000 non-gamers aged between 17 and 39 on their driving habits and attitudes.

It found while gamers think they are better behind the wheel, they’re actually way worse. They rated their driving skill at an average of six out of ten compared to non-gamers’ five. 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, on further questioning, the truth emerged – gamers admitted speeding more often, being stopped by the police more often and claiming on their insurance more regularly. Gamers are also rubbish parkers, admitting having crashed into more stationary objects.

“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,” said Peter Rodger, Institute of Advanced Motorists chief examiner.

“The issue is that when actually driving, our actions lead to ‘real’ results, and mistakes have very real consequences.”

The longer people spend on games like Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo each week, the worse they are behind the wheel, the study found.

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 an hour.