So new research says football fans are a menace behind the wheel when there’s a match on the radio and our teams are playing.
And guess who is up there among the worst culprits. Us in second place, behind West Brom but ahead of Norwich supporters in terms of how stressed we become while listening to games on the car radio and trying to drive at the same time.
John McCormick would doubtless cast a sceptical eye on the methodology – where are the comparisons with non-football fans and their accident rates, for example? – but I shall pass on the details for you to decide whether they could have some validity.
It is, at least, a good-sized sample, 2,000 supporters interviewed about their driving habits while listening the football on the car radio. Just over 1,000 is a typical sample for political polls – to which the media and, despite what they say if the results are hostile to their interests, the parties attach great weight; I have known pollsters accept barely 500 as a viable level.
What did the survey, for confused.com (an insurance price comparison site), come up with?
* More than one in 10 (11 per cent) of football fans interviewed have had an accident or near accident while driving listening to football commentary
* One in 25 (four per cent) have driven more aggressively when their team is losing
* Almost one in five (18 per cent) would not let drivers displaying stickers/scarves of arch rivals out at junctions
* West Bromwich Albion fans are the most stressed when listening to commentary on the radio while driving (83 per cent), followed by Sunderland (67 per cent) and Norwich City (60 per cent)
Among young drivers, the figures get worse. Of those aged 18-24, more than one in five (22 per cent) reported having had an accident or near miss while listening to football on radio.
It is not completely clear whether it has to be a match or can also be a talk show though the emphasis is on the effect of driving while listening to live coverage.
Seven per cent of all fans said listening to the football commentary had led to erratic driving (which seems at odds with the 11 per cent having or nearly having accidents unless they nevertheless considered their own driving blameless). A goal at either end led four per cent to drive faster or more aggressively.
Confused.com finds it unsurprising that half of football fans say their stress levels rise when listening to commentary on the radio while driving. Crystal Palace and Stoke City fans were the calmest; only one in four said they experienced increased stress levels when listening to commentary on their clubs.
Nearly eight per cent of football fans admitted they had rowed with a partner in the car because of football commentary (some of us achieve that without the need for football to be on the radio). Other effects noted: punching in the air when driving, with 41 per cent doing so to celebrate (with us, that could mean celebrating a pass from one Sunderland player to another); 16 per cent banging the steering wheel in frustration and 50 per cent shouting at the radio.
As for letting other drivers out at junctions, 18 per cent refuse if the other car displays the colours of arch rivals. That again means us apparently; Man City fans (presumably that means they’re nasty to Oldham supporters if cynics are right to say there is, strictly speaking, no other Manchester club) are the worst followed by those grumpy Baggies again and then by us.
Gemma Stanbury, head of car insurance at confused.com says: “We understand how avid football fans love supporting their football teams and listening to the games whenever they can, even if that means when they are driving. However, worryingly there are clear consequences of listening to football commentary on the radio. The research indicates that people are being distracted when listening to their team and consequently accidents on the roads are being caused.
“Distracted driving is an important issue for road safety. Distracted driving from radio commentary, loud music, backseat drivers etc affects more than just drivers and passengers on our roads. The reality is that all road users —drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists— are affected by distracted driving. As a motorist, there are elements within your vehicle that you can control to minimize the distractions that you are susceptible to while you drive.”
* Barely related, but the researchers also used the possible sidelining of Mark Lawrenson as an excuse for asking fans to name their top 10 commentators and pundits of all time. In very particular order, the results were:
John Motson (20 per cent)
Gary Lineker (16)
Brian Moore (9)
Chris Kamara (8)
Alan Green (8)
Andy Gray (7)
J**my H**l (6)
A**n S***r*r (6)
Martin Tyler (6)
Robbie Savage (5)
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