As the world enjoys a feast of sport, motorists are being warned that listening to games on the radio may be as dangerous as drunk driving, Sky News reported Friday.
The alert comes after new research suggested that sports fans distracted by the coverage of Wimbledon and the World Cup could be putting themselves and the lives of others at risk.
And the danger increases if the listener has an emotional attachment to a team or an interest in a particular outcome, scientists said.
Experts at the U.K. Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) found that reaction times can be slowed by up to 20 percent — adding a 20 foot (six meter) stopping distance if a car is traveling at 70mph (113 km/h).
The report said: "This increase in distance traveled is 10 percent further than the additional stopping distance when driving with a blood alcohol level at the U.K. legal limit (80 micrograms per milliliter)."
The number of incidents of hard breaking at the last minute almost doubled when motorists were listening to sports commentary, said the study.
And the report noted: "This suggests that the motorists were not paying enough attention to the road and had to make a late decision to respond to the conditions and drivers on the road around them."
TRL spokesman Dr. Nick Reed said: "At particularly tense times, such as penalty shootout, it may be safer to find a safe place to park and enjoy the action without risking an accident."
The study followed the reactions of 18 participants — nine men and nine women — aged 25-45.Participants were asked to listen to the radio sports commentary of three consecutive horse races while driving.
Beforehand they were asked to choose a horse for each race and told that they would be paid £1.50 ($2.27) for each horse in the top five.
"This was done to maximize engagement with the sports commentary," said the report.