Obviously being red-eyed and exhausted from a long night of binge-watching television is not a good recipe for road safety – yet research shows there is an interaction between everyday leisure activities and safety on the road.

Data from Statista shows 260-million Netflix users worldwide binge-watch their favourite series and this carries substantial implications for our driving habits.

“Exploring the connection between binge-watching TV shows and driving style is a novel area. We've been seeing a significant increase in the discussion around this topic,” says Dominic Wyatt, an experienced International Drivers Association motoring expert.

Let us explore why bridging the gap between your couch and car could be a game-changer for road safety.

The Silver Lining: Three Benefits of Binge-Watching Netflix on Your Driving Style 

Pro 1: Enhanced Multitasking Ability

Binge-watchers often juggle multiple storylines and characters, a practice that can improve multitasking skills. A study by ResearchGate supports this hypothesis, stating moderate media multi-taskers performed better in their driving tests than lower or higher media multi-taskers.

Pro 2: Increased Cognitive Flexibility

Thrilling plot twists and captivating narrative structures from binge-watching sessions could stretch our cognitive flexibility. This mental skill may transfer to the road, allowing drivers swiftly to adapt to changing traffic conditions.

Pro 3: Improved Emotional Sensitivity

Netflix shows often induce various emotions, potentially making binge-watchers more emotionally sensitive. Supporting this notion, an article published by Greater Good identifies increased empathy among individuals frequently consuming narrative fiction.

Wyatt suggests this heightened emotional awareness could make drivers more empathetic to other road users, reducing instances of road rage and reckless driving. 

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Flip of the Coin: Three Downsides of Binge-Watching Netflix on Your Driving Style 

Con 1: Fatigue

Excessive screen time can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, which is a leading cause of road accidents. A report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety validates this with research showing that missing one to two hours of sleep doubles the crash risk.

Con 2: Increased Distraction

Dividing attention between a series and other activities could increase distractions while driving. This behaviour can lead to unsafe road practices, as distractions are a significant factor in traffic accidents. An article from Forbes corroborates this, reporting distracted driving is a factor in about 10% of all fatal crashes.

“Watching too many movies can make us accustomed to constant action and excitement, blurring the line between reel life and real life, leading to distracted driving,” suggests Wyatt. 

Con 3: Unrealistic Speed Perception

Watching high-speed chases and rapid scene changes on Netflix could distort a driver's speed perception, potentially encouraging reckless driving. A study by Diva Portal reports that 25% of fatal accidents cite speed as a factor, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a realistic perception of speed on the road.

Key Ways to Ensure Safety While Driving

Whether you are a Netflix addict or not, here are simple yet valuable tips to stay safe on the road:

  1. Prioritize Rest: Prioritize adequate rest to avoid drowsy driving.
  2. Stay Focused: Keep your attention on the road. Minimize in-car distractions.
  3. Follow Speed Limits: Always follow speed limits and adjust speed as road conditions change.
  4. Respect Others: Be courteous and considerate to other road users.
  5. Stay Updated: Regularly update your knowledge about traffic rules and regulations.

As we unmask the interplay between Netflix binge-watching and driving habits, let us remember that responsible driving habits remain the foundation for safer roads. Whether binge watching a series boosts your cognitive agility or leads to fatigue, ensuring safety is paramount while behind the wheel. These discoveries offer a fascinating perspective, inviting us to consider how our leisure activities may subtly shape our everyday behaviours.

Colin Windell

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