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Rich Guy, Bad Driver: What New Data Tells Us About The Connection Between Luxury Cars and Driving Behaviour

5 min. readbyVexxit StaffonMay 08, 2020
New research shows the connection between the cost of a car and the likelihood that the driver will have a terrible driving record.

The secret to being healthy, wealthy and wise, according to Benjamin Franklin, is early to bed and early to rise. The secret to being a big fat jerk, according to the latest research, is driving a luxury sports car.

A new study at the University of Nevada revealed that the more expensive a car is, the less likely the driver is to stop and allow pedestrians to cross the road. Researchers found “the cost of the car was a significant predictor of driver yielding, with the odds that they’ll stop decreasing by 3 percent per $1,000 increase in the car’s value.”

This research is in line with the findings of a 2012 University of California, Berkeley study, which found “a huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars.” When it came to pedestrians, “One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop,” researcher Paul Piff told The New York Times, “BMW drivers were the worst.”

And then earlier this year, academics at the University of Helsinki reported similar results in a personality study of nearly 2,000 drivers. Professor Jan-Erik Lönnqvist set out to discover whether specific types of people are drawn to high-status cars regardless of their financial means; and, what type of people are most likely to break traffic laws.

Professor Lönnqvist’s research was “unambiguous” on the point that “men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic are much more likely to own a high-status car.” His findings also confirmed that all drivers of luxury cars are more likely to flout traffic regulations and drive more recklessly than drivers of modest vehicles.

“I had noticed that the ones most likely to run a red light, not give way to pedestrians and generally drive recklessly and too fast were often the ones driving fast German cars,” Professor Lönnqvist said.

In other words, there is growing scientific evidence behind the old joke that “despite its good brakes, a BMW will usually stop with a jerk.”

But, wait… before we commit to any stereotypes here, Professor Lönnqvist also found another key personality type drawn to high-status cars: the highly conscientious people – both men and women. “The link is presumably explained by the importance they attach to high quality,” he said. “All makes of car have a specific image, and by driving a reliable car they are sending out the message that they themselves are reliable.”

Now, let’s put aside for a moment whether you are of the conscientious variety (of course you are), or the more disagreeable type (perish the thought). If you’re driving around town in some kind of sweet ride – and we are to believe the research – then there’s a higher than average chance you may be involved in a traffic infraction. We’re here to help you find the right lawyer.

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