Survey Says Link To Video Games And Unsafe Driving Is 'Indisputable' -- Which, Of Course, It Isn't

from the jack-thompson-on-line-one dept

Video games get blamed for all sorts of things, either by politicians looking to score points or lawyers looking to cash in. There are a few problems with all of these accusations: the causality is never clear-cut (nor ever really proven), and by buying into it, the responsibility for people's actions shifts from the people themselves to some video game or developer -- which isn't a very healthy response to violent crimes or other actions. Games that feature driving are a favorite target, and now a new survey from a British driving school (nah, no detectable bias there) says it "shows an indisputable link between gaming and dangerous driving". The company surveyed 1,000 British 16- to 24-year-olds (which is a bit odd, since except in rare cases, people have to be 17 before they can legally drive, or even learn to drive, in the UK), and a third of them said they "are more likely to drive faster on roads" right after playing driving games, and a quarter saying they take more driving risks. It also says that frequent games -- with what qualifies as frequent never defined -- are twice as likely as non-gamers "to lose their sense of reality on the open road", though those same frequent gamers also pass their driving tests on the first try more often than non-gamers. For a change, the company doesn't call for the games to be banned, it just suggests that gamers wait an hour after playing before driving for real, which sounds like the modern equivalent of the old wives' tale about waiting to swim for a while after you've eaten. Despite the company's claims, there is no indisputable link here, particularly since the claim is based on a survey of people saying they're more or less likely to behave a certain way, which is hardly conclusive evidence. All the survey really does is deflect attention from the underlying problem: people being too stupid or careless to make the distinction between video games and reality. If the antics people are capable of in video games make them think they could do something similar in a real car, there's an underlying problem there that's going to manifest itself at some point, regardless of whether or not they've played video games. That's the problem, not some video game.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    comboman, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Video games AFTER drivng is highly recommended

    I don't know about driving after video games but I can definitely recommend video games after driving. There's nothing like a round of Need for Speed or Burnout to relieve the stress after commuting home in gridlock. Virtual revenge for the jerk who cut you off in traffic is so much safer than the real thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:01pm


    Maybe if the are playing the game WHILE driveing.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    MissingFrame, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:14pm

    Almost agree

    From my personal experience, I also drive a bit more aggressively after playing a driving video game, but I also know there's better proof than surveys which say games make me a better driver. Such as better hand-eye coordination, learning of driving physics, and even a bit of rote muscle memory (with proper controls).

    I'm pretty sure the survey would be true for watching NASCAR, but I doubt it has as many positive benefits as gaming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    Well what about other types of games? I not more agressive at sports after playing a sports game, nor do I swing a sword around hacking at bushes and barrells after an adventure game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Casper, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:34pm

    It all depends. I drive fast all the time. After playing a video game of racing I am a little more apt to be a little more aggressive. The reason, at least for me, is that after playing a game that requires fast reactions and quick judgments, the rest of the world is slower. Now, the publishers of this article would point at that and say it is proof that it produces bad driving, but that's not true. If anything, it is very similar to after I get done racing in real life. My senses are heightened, my reflexes are quicker, and I brain is working faster. When I race around the track at speeds excess 150MPH, or cut around an autocross course at 50MPH through hair pin turns, it forces me to become more intense and focused. This focus carries over after I am done racing, but it is not a bad thing. I am actually a far better driver in this state then anyone day dreaming and driving along in their SUV, or chatting on their cell phone and putting on makeup.

    If everyone would just spend some time improving their driving and reflexes, and focus, there would be far fewer accidents. Every day that I drive to work I have to play dodge the idiot and it makes me furious that we give those people licenses. Rather then targeting video games, let’s work on the people that are actually on the road.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    I agree let's focus on the idiots out there driving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    underbiter, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    "(nah, no detectable bias there)" Please explain the bias.

    "I also know there's better proof than surveys which say games make me a better driver. Such as better hand-eye coordination, learning of driving physics,"

    Burnout revenge hasn't taught me much about driving physics. I wonder if that bus driver in atlanta was playing video games before he drove off that overpass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Overbiter, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:21pm


    (nah, no detectable bias there)

    Yes, Carlo, please explain the bias.

    People don't skip over driving schools and get their credentials from a video game, so what would the "biased" motivation be in such a study?

    Maybe the problem is that the video game causes them to forget what side of the road they're supposed to be driving on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    THis is why...

    I don't bother with surveys that much anymore. They used to be collections of data and nothing more but those days are long gone. Now they are the tool of any group that has an agenda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Cixelsid, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:54pm

    What the hell

    Its not the fast drivers thats the problem, its the stupid ones. Its just that the slow ones usually survive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    cawwot, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 3:00pm


    Hasn't taught YOU much maybe...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    i actually thought swimming after eating was a result of massive amounts of blood bething your large intestines to pull nutrients to other parts of your body, which is why you get cold and cramp when eating, expecially swimming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:03pm

    i can't attest for driving games, as i don't play them, but first person shooters generally make me a much more aware driver if i drive directly after playing them. it puts you in a state that is optimal for driving: a heightened sense of awareness and alertness, better recognition of things in your peripheral vision (i have a big monitor ;)), and your eyes are constantly roaming the scene as you go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    William, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:09pm

    Two words "Gran Turismo"

    That game is the best driving instructor in the world. There are a couple cases where I'm almost sure I would have been in a crash if I hadn't learned to drive like crazy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 6:04pm

    Next weeks article:

    "The family of a boy from * has sued [Gmae maker] after he died in a tragic attempt to jump over a 20' wide gorge 100' above foaming rapids. He had previously played [game] in which the charecters can jump wide gaps after picking up and eating pills from the ground, whcih allows them to gain an advantage by saving valuable time walking to the nearest bridge. It appears that he jumped just a few chains from a footbridge,but had been hurring and so attempted the leap. His family has called for such games to be banned, and want all games to ensure that only activities which are safe in real life are possible in games.

    "Related stories: Man breaks arm falliong off a wall: SUes MAtrix direcor"

    Maybe this stupidity would be reduced if a bunch of surveys "proving" patent nonsense were released, such as a survey "proving" that the majority of people believe that the world is flat or some otehr nonsense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Mr. Gavodime, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 6:13pm


    ...they wouldn't drive so badly if the tests for this study weren't administered in the car from Men in Black II.
    -"Didn't your mother ever give you a Gameboy?"
    -Yes, thats why I'm driving like I did in the racing games!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 8:27pm

    I believe it

    I tend to drive faster if I've been playing a driving game. But it also applies to driving on surface streets after having been on the interstate, so I don't know what you do about that.

    The bigger problem is that if I've been playing a lot of GTA lately, I start wondering things like "is this street wide enough to do a brake turn on?" or "Is this hill steep enough to get an insane jump?" And the all-time best "Should I veer into oncoming traffic and clip that guy on the bike?

    If you're reading, Mr. Thompson, I'm kidding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 9:21pm

    You idiot, AC

    you should not have posted that last line, since if you had ever goten a speeding ticket or commited any other driving offence, you could have sued.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    hg, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 2:57am


    Well the survey said they drive faster, but did it say whether they drive better at higher speeds then those who haven't played video games before driving?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Sailor Enlil, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:56pm

    And no one is blaming professional racing?

    And no one raised hell when a few pro race drivers were apprehended for speeding on public roads? One infamous example was Juan Pablo Montoya, who, during his stint as a race driver for then Williams-BMW F1 racing team (in 2003), was caught by police speeding on some long motorway in France driving a personally owned BMW SUV (he did over 200 km/h in a 130 km/h zone). See link below

    Speeding Montoya loses licence

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Bignumone, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 2:09am

    Games and behavior

    Has anyone considered that adults who buy video games are predisposed to this type of behavior? As opposed to the game causing them to do it.
    "The devil made me do it" defense has been around for a long time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    qyiet (profile), Mar 4th, 2007 @ 11:35am

    Video games saved my ass

    All I know about skid control I learned from video games... well not entirely true I learned theory while getting my drivers license. But I learnt the practice while playing a car racing game with a wheel, and I swear it saved me at least a dented car, and possibly a lot more.

    I was in a line of fast moving traffic, and saw my exit as I was going past it, and for whatever reason tried to take it anyway... My car started to skid out, but I reacted instinctively, releasing the breaks, and straightening the car, then pulling it around. I made the corner ... just. I attribute that entirely to the "practice" I had that month on a Porsche driving game.

    The good physics in that game meant that when I hit the same problem in the real world I just corrected, it was a learned movement. I dread to think what would have happened had the car spun.. It would have been a mess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    John, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 4:49pm

    What about movies?

    and of course no one ever speeds right after seeing a movie featuring hih speed chases or street racing. Where are the studies telling everyone to wait an hour before driving home from the movies?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    jimpbblmk, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 9:28pm

    The Inverse of the Matter

    Completely backwards. About a month ago, I was watching somebody play a PS3 racing game (which, by the way, sucked; they thought they could still get away with using sprites for trees; ha!). My very first thought was "Stay in your lane!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    YYS, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 1:31am

    I don't know about you...

    Not sure about you guys, but I do find myself driving faster after playing a realistic racing game. I realise it when I approach the first bend, do a reality check, then its back to 'normal' driving after that.

    However, I have never had the urge to kill anyone after any violent game. I consider myself 'normal' just like everyone out there (considering themselves to be normal)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Jon, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 11:09am

    Video Games Impact the Way I drive

    I'll certainly admit that proving causality in a study like this is diffiult, but I think they're right. After years of driving my daily driver in simulation driving games like Gran Turismo, I've not only developed better sense of my car, but I've developed a waiting period of 30 minutes between playing a racing game and getting on the road.

    Maybe it's me, but my brain needs to adjust to the lower speeds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    dawn, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 1:12pm

    why come we can't play these online for free.

    dawn jones

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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