Study Links Video Game Play to Reckless Driving Among Teens

Playing certain types of video games may increase the chances that a teen driver will take careless or reckless chances on the road, according to a recent study.

Study Links Video Game Play to Reckless Driving Among TeensThe study followed 5,000 U.S. teens over four years. The teens were interviewed each year, asking questions about their video game play and their driving habits. The first interview revealed that 50 percent of the teens regularly played “mature”-rated video games. One of the most popularly-played games was Grand Theft Auto III, in which reckless driving wins points.


A year later, teens’ driving records were examined in a second interview. Researchers found that the number of teens pulled over by police for careless or reckless driving maneuvers nearly doubled, from 11 percent to 21 percent. They also found that the number of teen drivers reporting car accidents went from 8 percent to 14 percent.


In the third year of the study, 25 percent of the teens answered with a “yes” when asked whether they had unsafe driving habits. This number jumped to 90 percent in year four, when the most commonly-cited unsafe driving act was running a yellow or red light.

While the link between video games and unsafe driving in teens needs more research, the study indicates that teens who “practice” reckless driving in a consequences-free environment like a video game may be unprepared for the very real risks of driving on real-life roads. Parents should take care to get their kids needed experience behind the wheel and to make clear the difference between driving in games and driving in real life.

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