Study Suggests Risk Taking Behavior in Video Games May Promote Unsafe Driving


October 20, 2013

The majority of parents are aware of the debate concerning the role violent video games play in desensitizing children and teens to acts of violence and promoting acts of violence.  However, there is another potential adverse consequence that may result from kids playing video games that has been largely ignored by the media.  Recent research indicates that certain video games may influence immature motorists to drive recklessly and cause an increased number of traffic accidents.

A longitudinal study published in the American Psychological Association (APA) journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture involved conducting multiple surveys of 5,000 teens over a four year period.  The researchers found that kids who were permitted to play “risk glorifying video games” admitted to engaging in a greater degree of rebellious and sensation seeking behavior.  Higher levels of sensation seeking activity and rebelliousness were directly linked to a greater probability of drunk driving, car crashes, unsafe driving practices and traffic stops.

“Most parents would probably be disturbed to learn that we observed that this type of game play was more strongly associated with teen drivers being pulled over by the police than their parenting practices,” explains the lead researcher involved in the Dartmouth College study.  “With motor vehicle accidents the No. 1 cause of adolescent deaths, popular games that increase reckless driving may constitute even more of a public health issue than the widely touted association of video games and aggression.”

The prevalence of high risk driving activity by those who reported playing games like Grand Theft Auto® that allegedly glorify risk taking behavior will certainly be concerning to many parents.  By the time those in the study had turned 18, ninety percent of the participants confirmed unsafe driving habits whereas only 25 percent engaged in unsafe driving habits at age 16.  The specific level of reported unsafe driving practices at age 18 are provided in the chart below:

Conduct/Percentage Age 18 

  • Traffic stop by a police officer/21 percent
  • Auto accident/11 percent
  • Speeding/78 percent
  • Tailgating/26 percent
  • Failure to yield/23 percent
  • Weaving in and out of traffic/25 percent
  • Running red lights/20 percent
  • Crossing double yellow lines/13 percent
  • No seatbelt/27 percent
  • Speeding through yellow lights/71 percent

Admittedly, the simple fact that the study participants had logged more hours behind the wheel would make it predictable that reports of individual instances of unsafe driving practice would increase, but the study researchers specifically inquired about “habitual unsafe driving practices.”  Further, the reported frequency of traffic stops and car accidents nearly doubled between the interviews conducted at age 16 and age 18.

While the study is not definitive proof that high risk activity in video games translates into risk-taking behind the wheel, parents might want to remind their kids that crazy driving in video games involving violent crashes do not reflect the real consequences of an auto accident.  If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, our Georgia car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. 

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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