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Teen Driving Skills & Video Game Use

Did you know that teens that play mature-rated video games may be more likely than those who do not to become irresponsible drivers? A new study published by the American Psychological Association suggests that perilous video games may lead to poor driving habits among young motorists. This is especially alarming knowing that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of teen fatalities.

The study found that playing these games is linked to reckless driving. Specifically, the research evaluated 5,000 American teenagers who were prompted to answer a series of questions over a period of four years. The study tracked the teens’ use of mature-rated video games in relation to their driving habits.

According to the results, 50 percent of the teens reported in the first interview (early teens) that their parents allowed them to play mature-rated games, including Spiderman II, Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto III. Moreover, playing these games was associated with increases in sensation seeking, rebelliousness and self-reported hazardous driving. Elevated rankings in sensation seeking and rebelliousness were directly connected to risky driving practices, car accidents, police stops and drinking and driving.

With time and further exposure to video games, the statistics worsened. Between the second and third interviews (mid-teens), those who indicated they had been pulled over by the police grew from 11 percent to 21 percent. Furthermore, those who said they were involved in a car accident jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. Additionally, 25 percent of teens said “yes” when asked if they engaged in dangerous driving habits.

In the final interview (late teens), 90 percent admitted to engaging in at least one risky driving habit. Specifically, 78 percent admitted to speeding; 23 percent to failure to yield; 26 percent to tailgating; 25 percent to weaving; 19 percent to avoiding stop signs; 20 percent to running red lights; 13 percent to crossing over a double line; 71 percent to speeding through yellow lights; and 27 percent to not wearing a seatbelt.

Ultimately, with continued use of mature-rated video games, driving skills declined. The researchers note that popular games that increase reckless driving habits may “constitute even more of a public health issue than the widely touted association of video games and aggression.” With this in mind, it may be time for safety advocates to look deeper into the issue of video games and the potential connection to motor vehicle accidents.

If you have been injured in a serious car accident by a risky driver, you may want speak with a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you determine whether recovery options are available.