Every day we come face to face with one of the world’s leading causes of death: our car. Nearly 3,287 people die each day due to car accidents. Even in non-fatal accidents, consequences can include sever injuries, extended medical treatment or surgical needs, long-term care, dealing with the insurance and medical bills, impact on employment, and – of course- the cost of repairing or replacing the car.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that scientists today are studying ways to improve driving skills. Recent studies have shown that driver’s education may not be the only way to help drivers improve their road skills. There is evidence that the virtual world helps us develop skills for the real world, like those used for safe and successful driving.
Thinking Quick on Your Feet
Video games help players to make the right decisions faster. One study showed that those who play fast paced video games answered questions and made accurate decisions 25% faster than those playing slower paced games. This is significant because gamers evolve to decrease their reaction times but don’t decrease in accuracy. This feat is extremely advantageous as drivers not only have to react quickly but also maintain accuracy to avoid getting in car accidents.
Helping Drivers Watch Out!
Various observational skills may be acquired through video games. Another study found that after hours of gaming, novice drivers developed visual search techniques that helped them to scan for hazards while driving. Playing video games leads to marked improvement between visual information and motor control. In other words, as the player sees hazards in a game, they are able to react quickly and appropriately to visual cues. For example, as a projectile rockets towards them, players are required to react quickly to avoid the hazard. This skill is easily translated to driving as motorists avoid objects in the street, pedestrians, and potential oncoming vehicles on a daily basis.
What about Non-Driving Games?
Interestingly, studies found that both driving related and action games invoked development of the aforementioned skills. Action games were linked specifically to the player’s ability to avoid distractions and make quick decisions. Driving games were linked to lane precision and motor control. However, each game serves a different purpose depending on the audience. Novice drivers learn better from driving games because they are able to develop skills related to maintaining control of a vehicle. Experienced drivers, however, improved in their ability to predict “input error signals” through FPS games.
So whether you are a pro or a noob, video games may hold the key to making you a better driver and the roads safer. Play a game, save a life.