MOTORISTS who play computer driving games such as Gran Turismo or Need for Speed are more likely to be poor drivers in the real world.
The UK research, commissioned by Continental Tyres and covering 2000 drivers split evenly between gamers and non-gamers, revealed that those who raced on consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox are twice as likely to speed, run a red light, suffer road rage and make an accident claim.
Nearly half of the gamers interviewed in the study of 17 to 39-year-olds admitted they take risks on the road and get angry at other road users. A quarter of the gamers said they speed and scare other passengers with their driving, compared with 13 and 11 per cent respectively for non-gamers.
Continental Tyres safety expert Tim Bailey says the results, which also revealed more gamers had been stopped by police, used mobile phones while driving and hit stationary objects when parking, prove computer-game users need to be aware there's no reset switch in the real world.
"It seems that while gamers develop useful skills and are more confident, they need to apply some balance with a sensible assessment of risk," said Bailey.
"Playing computer games means good concentration levels and improved reaction times; however, they can take more risks than non-gaming drivers, possible due to the lack of real consequence in games."
The research also revealed that those who played driving games for hours every week had been in three times as many accidents as those who dabbled for less than hour, though gamers still consider themselves better drivers.
Driving simulation fans had a higher average self-rating of six out of 10 compared with five out of 10 for the non-gamers, claiming quicker reaction times, better anticipation and greater understanding of vehicle handling made them better drivers.
The study supported them in two areas. Gamers took an average of two attempts to pass their driving test compared with three for non-gamers, while the PlayStation generation had one prang per year on average compared to two for those who steered away from consoles.
More than 60 million copies of Gran Turismo have been sold since it launched in 1997, making it the world's biggest-selling driving simulator. The latest edition, Gran Turismo 5, went on sale last year.
GAMERS VERSUS NON-GAMERS
|Suffer road rage||45%||22%|
|Take risks (accelerate too quickly, overtake)||44%||21%|
|Run a red light in last 12 months||31%||14%|
|Made a claim for a crash||30%||15%|
|Scare others with they’re driving||26%||11%|
|Stopped by police||22%||13%|
|Hit stationary object when parking||22%||13%|
|Accidently clipped a car but kept quiet||19%||11%|
|Use mobile when driving||19%||12%|
|Driven wrong way down one-way street||13%||10%|
|Attempts before passing test||2||3|
|No. of crashes to their vehicle in last 12 months||1||2|