Driving is not simply about getting from one place to another, it is a public display of your identity. Because of that—and human’s unfortunate obsession with categorizing people—stereotypes emerge. It’s true, at every intersection, on every road and at every parking lot, stereotyping happens.
But which ones are based on truths and which ones are just our own prejudices? Which ones are valid and which are our ignorant negativity? Are Jeep drivers that much different than Mazda drivers? Surely quality driving is not only skin-deep.
Women are worse drivers than men
True. Hate to say it, but there is actually some validity to this stereotype. According to a studyconducted by the University of Michigan, men and women get into approximately the same amount of accidents in six scenarios that resulted in a crash. But where the scale is tipped is that men drive 20% more often than women. And crashes occurring between women and women are more frequent in a sample of 6.5 million crashes.
Ethnicity affects quality driving
False. Ethnicity and race has no implication on how one drives.
A common assumption is that people who are born in other countries with different traffic cultures are unable to adapt to the North American standards and therefore cause accidents. If that is the case, it is still the person who is unable to or has declined to learn the culture, and he or she does not represent the collective.
On the road, we may see one Asian driver in an accident, but we don’t notice all the other ones driving safely. It becomes a clear memory and one that can be regurgitated in moments of high intensity while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Report published in 2009, which you can view here, there is no clear determining factor between ethnicity, race and traffic collisions.
Older drivers are even worse
True. In Canada, seniors of a certain age will have to reapply for their driver’s licence, take a vision test, and undergo a driving examination. It’s been proven that elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in right-of-way accidents, where it involves yielding to another vehicle. Researchers have found that mental, visual or physical impairments play a large role in a driver’s ability to concentrate. As those attributes deteriorate, so does the quality of driving.
Young drivers are negligent
According to a 2002 Statistics Canada report, 19-24 year olds are involved in the highest rate of impaired driving, while MADD Canada reports show that automotive accidents cause the largest percentage of deaths in Canadians aged 15-25. Young drivers tend to feel invincible upon getting their new car, but the fact is that they are inexperienced—unable to make key judgement calls. The high percentage of speeding and driving under the influence amongst young drivers continue to warrant concerns.
Pickup truck drivers are rude on the road
Depends. Yes, big pickup trucks are annoying, especially to those with small compact cars—we can’t understand why they drove such a massive beast to the shopping mall and took up two parking spaces—but there they are. We mutter “Douche” under our breath and move on. But having a vehicle of a certain type does not make you any more aggressive of a driver. While it’s true that the driver is the one who makes a choice to buy a truck and act as an alpha on the road, the rule doesn’t always apply. And for those of you with little cars, know this: pickup trucks are quite expensive to insure. It’s not uncommon for its insurance price to match that of a luxury vehicle. Gee, I wonder why. Then again, the driver might be totally cool and will help you move next time.
Red cars get into more accidents
False. Black, silver and grey cars actually have a higher risk of being in an accident, because of their inability to be seen through cluttered streets and low lighting situations. Red cars lurk around the middle ground in regards to being accident-prone. There is a lot of research out there, but nothing conclusive yet on how colour relates to accidents. Even insurance companies will admit that they don’t necessary charge more for vehicles in red. It is all just a myth.
Expensive cars get more speeding tickets
True. Studies done by Quality Planning, a company based in San Francisco has polled numbers and found that the car most likely to be ticketed was the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, a pretty fancy piece of machinery that gets noticed.
With four times the likelihood of being ticketed, those driving a two-door convertible are often those who can afford the fine. And they know it too, because 63% of luxury drivers believe they will get a speeding ticket if they are over the speed limit by 10 miles/hour. They have a right to be paranoid.
Weed smokers are safer drivers
Debatable—but leaning more towards false. In an earlier post, we discussed the possibility that those who consume cannabis before driving may actually be more cautious and alert upon the roads. While no firm conclusion can be offered, it seems as though the public and authorities are far from condoning the act and still very much consider it DUI if caught. Sure, you might not be drunk, but your motor skills are still hindered, so technically, you can’t be considered “safer.”
Only snobs drive hybrid and electric cars
False. Hating on hybrid and electric car drivers is the most perplexing phenomenon on the roads today. Many drivers of standard vehicles are feeling victimized in public parking places where spots usually reserved for the mass are now exclusive for hybrids and electrics. They would argue: Should a vegetarian get a better seat in the restaurant, because they are eating healthier? Good point, but maybe it should encourage people to go green.
An episode of South Park famously mocked the smugness of hybrid drivers, as they cruise on by feeling high and mighty. I believe that eco-friendliness is something that should be commended, but not worshiped. I would rather have a snobby hybrid on the road than another reckless sports car enthusiast. Maybe I’m already green with envy.
Cars are the best way to get over a midlife crisis
False. As we approach that pinnacle point in our life and ride the plateau into retirement, we often feel compelled to splurge. The cliché: a forty year-old businessman going against his wife’s wishes and buying a fancy vehicle. Yes, that sounds tantalizing and rejuvenating, but a car remains a materialistic possession. The initial feeling of joy will evaporate, as fees and maintenance builds up. It becomes a responsibility or a liability.
But if you do feel the need to purchase a swanky vehicle, take your friends and family on a trip. That is where the memory happens.