Listening to football at wheel is dangerous

LONDON - Listening to commentary of football matches on the radio while driving can be dangerous, leading motorists to risk smashes during exciting moments, according to research published on Wednesday.

The study by scientists at Britain's University of Leicester found that goals, penalties and red cards caused fans to lose concentration and drive more erratically.

The report, published to coincide with the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona on Wednesday, had advice for those planning to listen to the game in a car.

"It is concluded that - where possible - football fans should ask someone else to drive during important matches such as the Champions League final," Professor Michael Pont said.

The report estimated that two million motorists had had an accident or near miss while listening to sport on the radio.

"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," said Pont.

"The results we obtained suggest that, particularly during high-pressure situations within games, there was a very marked impact on the behaviour of the subjects of this study."

The research, which studied participants' behaviour on a driving simulator, found that football fans would speed or suddenly slow down, overtake and get closer to other vehicles on the road as games developed.

One driver, a Chelsea fan, reacted to a Barcelona player being sent off during a match between the two clubs by accelerating, and trying to overtake and change lanes frequently.

The behaviour of football fans behind the wheel was very different from that of the casual listener which was far more consistent, the study found.