Studies link teens’ reckless driving to video games

Studies indicate violent, mature-rated video games and racing games may increase unsafe driving behaviors when teens get behind the wheel.

Young drivers in Knoxville, Tennessee, have the same responsibilities when behind the wheel that older and more experienced drivers do. However, statistics show that many teens are not necessarily mature enough to handle their vehicles safely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of a fatal crash is three times higher for drivers ages 16 to 19 than it is for drivers 20 and older. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in America.

There are a number of behaviors listed by the CDC that raise the likelihood a teen will be involved in a car accident. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, one of these, reckless driving, may be connected to video games.

Violent games could lead to accidents

Beginning at age 14, the 5,000 teens who participated in the APA’s study identified the types of video games they played. When they began to drive, they also reported their driving behaviors. The study continued through the age of 18.

Although self-reporting studies are not always conclusive, researchers found that many of those who played adult-rated games promoting dangerous behaviors consistently participated in the following risky activities behind the wheel:

•· Speeding

•· Ignoring traffic signals

•· Tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic

•· Crossing a double line

•· Not wearing a seatbelt

•· Failure to yield

According to the results, rebelliousness and thrill-seeking behaviors appear to be directly linked to both the video games and to incidents such as traffic stops, drinking and driving and motor vehicle crashes.

Speeding associated with racing games

According to, other research appears to verify the APA’s findings. Two studies evaluated the effects of simulated racing games on teens’ driving habits. In both cases, results indicate that these types of video games are directly related to an increased likelihood that the drivers would speed. A third study linked games that simulated races to aggressive driving behaviors.

Researchers did note a benefit virtual races could have that violent games do not: They may improve a gamer’s response time to traffic situations. However, the perceived benefits must be weighed against the considerable risk. To help teens engage in better driving behaviors and avoid the consequences of a collision, experts recommend that parents limit screen time and ensure that the games are turned off well before the teen gets behind the wheel.

An accident involving reckless behavior can change a teen’s life forever. Those who sustain injuries from the crash may hire a car accident attorney to receive compensation for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.