Idiots Fall Off Cars: Video Games To Blame


Posted July 21, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

Car Surfing

Recently, neurosurgeons have been studying a rash of cases of young people suffering head injuries from falling off moving cars. Kids call it car surfing, or "Ghost Riding The Whip." While the study's authors blame this "trend" partially on the relentless, unending stupidity of young people, according to the study, video games, TV and YouTube are part of the problem as well.

According to the report, car surfing is most popular in California, Florida and Texas, and doctors saw a steady rise in accident rates starting in 1998, then rates went up in 2004 and 2005, corresponding to the release of GTA: San Andreas, the popularity of Jackass and the rise of youtube videos depicting car surfing:

"The first major rise in fatalities in 1998–1999 overlapped with the release of the first 2 editions of the Grand Theft Auto video games. A second major rise in fatalities between 2000 and 2002 occurred with the release of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Jackass the television series (2000–2002), and the premiere of Jackass: The Movie in 2002. Coinciding with the introduction of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in late 2004 and YouTube in early 2005, there was a third peak in the fatality rate between 2004 and 2005. During the years in which no new edition of Grand Theft Auto was released and Jackass was not aired, there was a coincident drop in car-surfing fatalities."

I blame Teen Wolf and its enticing image of a werewolf-ed out Michael J. Fox riding on a roof and singing "Surfing U.S.A...." But seriously, usually, when a study tries to link disparate elements in the culture (IE: Video games to crime), I question the methodology of the study, because a correlation isn't necessarily causal, but these neurologists might be on to something with the car-surfing thing. Car-surfing isn't a huge part of GTA and Jackass, but I could totally see that the combination of stupidity and YouTube resulting in a "trend" like car surfing. Anyone dumb enough to not understand the dangers of riding a car-roof would similarly not be able to think of original, dumb things to do so might turn to YouTube for ideas.

As a very important voice in the video game industry, let me go on record as saying: If you ride on the outside of a car, you are a moron, and you might die or get head trauma. There. I saved lives.

In case that wasn't strong enough, I talked to our intern, Intern Meg, about this trend. Here's our very important interview:

Me: Hey, Intern Meg. You're a young person, right?

Meg: I'm a young person. I'm hip. I'm cool.

Me: What would you think about a guy who rides on the roof or hood of a car?

Meg: That guy is an idiot. The seats are in the car. Didn't you see Death Proof? It didn't end too well there.

Me: What if Car-Surfing guy asked you out? Like said, "Hey, let's get together on Friday and ride on the roof of my car?"

Meg: I would say no. 


Idiots Fall Off Cars: Video Games To Blame


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