SUVs and expensive cars make you dangerous drivers

Heavier, more expensive cars tend to be bad drivers. It is not us who say it, but science – and Business Insider, who devote an article to the question of car psychology and the relationship between attitude on the road and the type of vehicle being driven.

The US site reports a study conducted by researchers in Las Vegas in 2019. By sending a white man, a white woman, a black woman and a black man through the streets in a speed-limiting zone, they sought to find a relationship between the skin color of pedestrians and gender and drivers’ attitudes towards them.

Accident: the two criteria do not appear to have a particularly significant impact. However, a minority of cars braked too politely to let go of the passage as the majority did not care about these people on foot and accelerated so as not to lose a second by letting them cross. Only 129 vehicles stopped out of the 461 observed.

Scientists threw their brains out to explain the phenomenon until they took all the videotapes of the experiment and listed the models of the cars that were incriminated in this particularly uncivilized “road rage”.

Surprise or not: In an article published in the Journal of Transport & Health, the authors explained that they discovered that rudeness in driving increased as the value of the car driven increased. According to them, a $ 1,000 increase in the price of the vehicle equates to a 3% lower chance of letting a pedestrian pass.

As Business Insider reminds us, this is not the first study to highlight such a relationship: expensive or fast cars have always had an impact on the dominant behavior of their drivers, as on the people – dominated – who drive more basic cars.

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And that was even before the massive arrival in the markets, both American and European, of monstrously heavy, bulky and polluting SUVs, crossovers and pickups that now rule over some of the roads as almighty tanks whose weight and height have steadily increased through the years.

At the same time, the number of pedestrians killed on the roads followed the same trend in the United States, and even achieved the sad feat of rising during the pandemic as cars were driven less.

The technique is not absent in this phenomenon: when a car of normal size cuts its legs, the huge SUVs hit the whole body, on adults, but even more so children, whose heads sometimes do not even reach the height of the bonnet of the vehicle. In terms of weight, we let you imagine the difference between the impact, at low and high speeds, of a 2-ton SUV and that of a Twingo half as heavy.

“Some studies show that driving in a very large vehicle gives both drivers and passengers a greater sense of security. It is an incentive to buy one ”explains Justin Tyndall, an economist at the University of Hawaii who specializes in motorist behavior.

“The problem is that overall it can lower our collective security”specifies the American, responsible for a study linking pedestrian deaths and the largest concentration of large cars.

To this we can add that this feeling of safety is only a feeling: No, children are no safer in an SUV than in a classic car, especially because doubling the risk of overturning cancels out the benefits that height and weight provide.

The change also occurs at the level of driving style. An article published earlier this year showed that the more the driver felt safe in his cab, the more he tended to take risks, to brake too late, to accelerate suddenly, to exceed the speed limits; in short, to do anything that could lead to fatalities.

Professor at IÉSEG and co-author of this study, Bart Claus explains that large (or fast) and expensive cars have also always been strong social and economic markers – external signs if not of wealth, at least of some material comfort that is important to show.

“They are more self-centered, more selfish, interested in their own interests rather than those of others”he says of people buying these massive, crushingly expensive and polluting vehicles. “All of this comes together in an SUV to create a person who is less sympathetic to his neighbor than if he did not drive an SUV.”

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