Esure experiment find drivers speed and tail-gate in match

Esure has warned football fans not to listen to the Champions League Final tonight while driving after research by TTE Systems at the University of Leicester estimated listening to sport causes two million accidents.

The report Football Focus estimated two million motorists have had an accident or near miss while driving and listening to sport on the radio.

Using a driving simulator they found the driving behaviour of football fans varied considerably - sometimes erratically - as the match progressed.

The average motorist listens to football on the radio three times per month according to the poll, with over two million (6%) doing so every day, and 21% once a week.

The tests showed:

  • football fans had larger changes in speed
  • fans got closer to other vehicles on the road (tail-gating)
  • the casual listener's driving behaviour was more consistent, with or without the distraction of the radio.


During a match between Portsmouth and Newcastle, the pace of the match increased with a forward movement by the Newcastle team. At the same time, the driver under scrutiny reacted by accelerating the vehicle. During this period, the throttle was set to maximum and the driver increased the simulation vehicle speed from 68mph to 77mph in 22 seconds. The driver also overtook another vehicle.

In another match, between Chelsea and Barcelona, the subject (a Chelsea fan) reacted when a Barcelona footballer was sent off, by attaining maximum speed and throttle setting at the time of the incident. At the exact point when this incident occurred, the driver increased speed to 73mph - yet his average speed during the entire study was 68mph. However, while not listening to the radio, the same subject never achieved a speed of more than 69mph.

Ask someone else to drive

Professor Michael Pont of the University of Leicester, said: "It is widely accepted that the distraction of talking on a hand-held mobile phone may lead to accidents but other activities may have a similar impact - such as listening to sport on the radio.

"The results we obtained suggest that, particularly during high-pressure situations within the games, there was a very marked impact on the behaviour of the subjects in this study. It is concluded that - where possible - football fans should ask someone else to drive during important matches such as the Champions League Final."

Listening to sport gets the red card

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance, said: "Results from these driving simulator tests gives great cause for concern - particularly with kick-off time for the Champions League Final fast approaching - as driving behaviour can clearly be affected by listening to sport on the radio. Red cards, penalty shoot-outs, and the intensity and pace of a football match can result in sudden acceleration or deceleration, erratic lane changes, tail-gating and over-taking manoeuvres.

"Football fans should avoid listening to crucial games on the radio when behind the wheel - even if they're just running late and don't want to miss the start of a key match. It's safer to get a lift, stay at home or just don't tune in whilst driving to avoid an accident as emotions run high."

Regional Differences

  • Drivers in the North West listen to sport on the radio in their car most (10 times a month)
  • Welsh motorists listen to half as much live sport while driving (five times).
  • Drivers in London are more affected emotionally when listening to sport on the radio (12 % experience road rage if the team they support is losing),

Gender Divide

  • 29% of men listen to live matches while driving once a week compared to just 13% of women
  • 14% of men have been distracted and taken their eyes off the road while listening to live sports on the radio while driving, Just 9% of women have