Slow Down: Driving is Not a Video Game

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blurred lights driving fastIf you say you’ve never had the urge to try out your car’s top speed on the highway or weaving through traffic like a pro, you’re probably not being completely honest. Even though a majority of today’s drivers are aware of the dangers of driving recklessly, there may be a little bit of “road daredevils” in everyone.

While fantasizing about driving fast is harmless, living out your dreams can cause serious, even fatal, accidents. “The truth is that all of us face the risk of becoming involved in a car accident every time we leave our home,” says Belt & Bruner, PC. Even when you play it safe and follow the rules of the road, you can’t assume that other drivers are making the same smart and safe decisions.

The Thrill of Driving Fast (and a little furious)

Accidents can be blamed on a variety of factors, but speeding on highways and in residential areas makes up for a substantial amount of car accidents every year. In 2012, speeding was responsible for one-third of fatal accidents.

Despite speed limits and harsh penalties for driving over the speed limit, why do drivers continue to speed? Can we blame the “need for speed” on anything or is it a natural urge? Our speediest drivers on our roads are also the youngest. While speeding can occur within any age demographic, teen drivers (also the “newest”) are most likely to speed and make riskier decisions.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why teen drivers are likely to speed, maybe it’s the new found independence that comes with driving, maybe it’s over confidence, perhaps peer pressure is to blame, but what about video games? Studies suggest that your teen’s favorite video games could instill the need for speed and other reckless driving behaviors.

Video Games and Driving

Driving games have come a long way. While driving simulator type games still exist in dwindling arcades across the U.S., reckless driving has made its way into popular video games (think “Grand Theft Auto”). Video games offer an escape from reality for its players, but there is a thin line between escape and influence.

Pre-teens and teenagers, who spend a significant amount of time playing video games, may be more likely to engage in reckless driving than those who don’t. Consider a game like “Grand Theft Auto” for example, the character engages in reckless driving behaviors from speeding, running people down, exhibiting road rage, and causing property damage. While a teen may not consciously decide to drive recklessly, he or she may be desensitized and see nothing wrong in cutting another driver off on the highway.

Keep the Video Games, Change the Driver

It’s easy to point the finger at video games for any type of reckless behavior. While some teens are influenced by the games they play, others may not be. Rather than taking away the video games, talk to your teen about their driving behaviors; catch the bad habits before they cause an accident.

Although teens were taught the “rights” and “wrongs” of the road in a driver’s education course, talk to your teen about aggressive and reckless driving. Teens that play games with less aggressive characters are less likely to be aggressive. Lead by example, if you are a calm and mindful driver, your teen may be as well.

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