Playing computer games could make drivers safer?

Published: June 17, 2015

Bored of counting dead kangaroos as you drive the Outback? Fed up with long, straight ‘uninteresting’ inland highways? Well, don’t worry, you might soon be able to play computer games as you steer your rig through the vastness of Australia.

A researcher from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety is speculating that using gadgets and games behind the wheel could actually make risky drivers safer on the roads.

“Rather than demonising technologies like smart phones, Google glasses or head-up displays like those used by jet pilots to allow transparent images to be displayed on the windscreen of planes, my research is using these devices to provide fun and engaging stimulation that replaces the urge for risky driving behaviours,” said Dr Ronald Schroeter.

“This sensation-seeking behaviour not only includes increasing speed or other risky driving manoeuvres, but can also lead to diverting attention away from the driving task, for example by using a mobile phone.”

The future of gaming while driving, according to Dr Schroeter, might involve high-tech gadgets to create a stimulating driving experience.

“For example, imagine an angry birds-type scenario where you have birds on your windscreen hitting or missing a bulls-eye dependent on your driving performance when braking at a red traffic light,” he said. “This basically turns every red light into a playful driving game.”

Dr Schroeter’s research into the issue was primarily sparked by the massive over-representation of young males in road crashes due to what he sees as their low boredom threshold.

“Up until now nobody has ever looked into making driving less boring with the view to make driving safer and that is what my research is aiming to do,” he said. “By using a head-up display that provides exciting driving-related content, it is hoped that we can firstly divert young drivers’ attention away from distractions and back towards the road, and secondly by gamifying or rewarding safe driving behaviour, we motivate them to take less risks.”

* Do you have an ‘interesting driving game that makes those long Outback drives less boring? Do you find boredom a safety issue when you are behind the wheel? Comment below.

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