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Road Accident -Video Games & Young Drivers Accidents?

Today, September 17th, is a big day. You might ask why, and you’d be forgiven – because unless you’re in a certain age group, or work in a certain industry, you’d probably be unlikely to know that today is the day that Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5) comes out – the latest in the hugely popular series of video games.

Video games, in general, receive numerous amounts of criticism: children should, critics say, be encouraged to play outside, not sit in front of screens getting squared eyed from video games and television. However, it’s clear that video games are here to stay – it’s a huge industry and, in a similar way to the launch of the latest smartphone, the launch of a new video games console receives huge media attention from around the globe.

Grand Theft Auto specifically has also come in for criticism, namely for the fact that it is based around the premise of stealing cars.

But could GTA 5, or any of the other games in the series for that matter, be doing our youngsters some form of good – and will their driving benefit from it?

Unlike other driving games, Grand Theft Auto isn’t a case of simply racing against the computer – holding down a button to go as fast as you can. Grand Theft Auto involves completing missions, meaning that the driving is a lot more ‘real’ in that sense at least. Users drive from location to location, looking to protect their character and complete objectives while remaining safe – and thus avoiding any form of road accident.

So while many in the media, and no doubt many Mums and Dads around the world, will bemoan the fact that their kids are stealing virtual cars for fun, there could be some good happening. Given GTA 5’s different format to other car based games, perhaps are young drivers are learning about driving safely in a broad sense, and hazard perception too. More broadly, the hand eye coordination that is no doubt involved could be a good thing too – especially given that many may choose to use a steering wheel controller.

Young drivers are often criticised for driving recklessly: flying across pelican crossings, not leaving safe stopping distances and, of course, breaking speed limits. There are of course many good young drivers, but it’s the bad ones who get the headlines. With the continued popularity of GTA 5 and their like, there’s a good chance that young drivers may become more conscious of the dangers on the road. It would do them some good, too – as insurance premiums for young drivers, which are notoriously high, would surely fall eventually.