Motorists who play on driving games such as Need for Speed and Formula 1 are more likely to crash, run a red light and are less successful at carrying out every day manoeuvres.
It also emerged that the longer they spend on games like Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo each week , the worse they are behind the wheel.
They are more likely to make car insurance claims, pick up speeding convictions, attempt risky manoeuvres, suffer from road rage and be stopped by the police.
The figures, put together by tyre manufacturer Continental, back risk assessments from car insurance providers that put these drivers in the most expensive premium brackets
Tim Bailey, safety expert for Continental Tyres, said: “This is an interesting piece of research. It seems that while gamers develop useful skills and are more confident, they need to apply some balance with a sensible assessment of risk.
“Playing computer driving games means good concentration levels and improved reaction times, however, they can take more risks than non-gaming drivers, possibly due to the lack of real consequences in games.
“The most important issues for driving safely are concentration, an appreciation of road and vehicle conditions and an awareness of potential risks. Clearly driving games can develop these skills but that has to be balanced – driving on public roads is never a race.”
The study of 2,000 motorists consisted of 1,000 gamers and non-gamers (all young drivers aged between 17 and 39) and quizzed them on their driving habits and attitudes.
It found while gamers think they are better behind the wheel, in reality they are far from it. They rated their driving skill at an average of six out of ten compared to non-gamers’ five.
And they also falsely claimed to have quicker reaction times, better anticipation of events and greater understanding of the car’s dynamics – such as gear changes and cornering.