Gamers really are better drivers, says new survey

LONDON: Can playing driving video games have any impact on real-life driving? That's the question asked by Auto Trader, a British specialist in online used car sales, which conducted a survey of 1,000 drivers aged 18 and over who spend more than four hours a week playing driving video games.

The results of the survey are surprising, since Auto Trader reports that racing video game players tend to be better drivers than non-gamers.

In fact, 41% of gamers surveyed felt they had excellent driving skills, compared with just 13% of non-gamers.

Gamers are also more self-confident on the road, with 56% claiming that their gaming experience has had a positive impact on their real-life driving, notably by improving their reaction time and spatial awareness.

And their beliefs appear to be borne out by the figures.

Gamers tend to have fewer penalty points on their driving licenses than non-gamers. According to the study, only 15% of gamers have ever received penalties for their driving behavior, compared with 28% of non-gamers.

Potentially more alert thanks to the reflexes developed by playing car racing games, gamers may develop their cognitive functions to a greater extent, as highlighted by the 2023 study "Video games and board games: Effects of playing practice on cognition."

"Video games seem to have a greater potential for overall cognitive enhancement because they involve processing various types of information and adapting strategies dynamically and in real time," the paper reads.

However, Auto Trader's study found that players of driving video games tend to adopt more dangerous behaviours on the road, such as using a cell phone while driving.

A quarter of gamers surveyed have got penalty points on their license for this offense, compared to just 4% of non-gamers.

On the other hand, non-gamers tend to be penalised more often for speeding, at 85% versus 71% of gamers.

"Our survey shows some light correlation between regular car-based gaming and safer driving habits — adding real-life examples to the studies out there which show video games can boost the cognitive skills that improve your driving," said Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.

"All drivers should adhere to safety regulations while driving, whether they play video games often or not, and the new technology available when you lease new models can certainly help you avoid speeding penalties.

"Newer car models, which come equipped with advanced safety features, traffic updates, map routes and entertainment technologies, can also reduce the temptation to engage with mobile devices while driving."
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