Are Sports Cars Drivers Jerks?

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Do people have an innate sense of carte blanche when they’re driving sports cars? Should we just chalk up the entitlement to human nature?

Nothing really says power on the road like a V-double digit engine. The horsepower makes a driver feel powerful. And yes, people in power don’t necessarily have the best reputations for obeying the rules like the rest of society (causes of the recession, anyone?). Wielding power is a big responsibility and human error is natural across all levels of power. Therefore, misusing power is a natural pitfall, with broad affects when made by people who are capable of doing a lot of damage.

According to Marketwatch, driving a BMW has a high correlation with the likelihood of driving like a jerk. The blurb cited two studies that concluded that if you own a BMW, arguably in the upper echelon of cars, then you’re less likely to be kind on the road. Not making full stops and driving aggressively (particularly by the 35- to 50-year-old male population) were the main offenses.

It didn’t faze us to learn that BMW owners drive like they’re playing Miami Vice — most BMW models are almost too glitzy to attract mild-mannered drivers. What surprised us is that the Marketwatch article went on to say that Prius owners were also guilty of haughty driving habits. Prius owners? We thought they were made up of soft-spoken middle-aged fathers, marine biologists, and Leonardo DiCaprio!

The explanation for this is that poor road etiquette isn’t tied to driving cars that are built for speed. Rather, rude drivers’ behaviors come from owning high-status cars. The New York Times referenced the study’s origin, UC Berkeley, where environmentally conscious cars are viewed as elite, and hence make hybrid drivers feel entitled to drive poorly. What has your experience been with high-status cars and dismissive driving patterns? In my experience, taxi cabs and buckets (old, dinky cars) — in addition to gussied-up sports cars — have been the ones that operate like the road is their oyster.

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  • Dan

    I drive a Prius and find that when I obey the speed laws I have people riding my ass and when I speed people go out of their way to get in front of me. I can’t win. I try to be courteous, I signal, I use fast lanes and passing lanes as intended, I never cut people off, I use Bluetooth when on the phone while driving, I never text or do anything that distracts from driving while driving, and when I’m lost I pull to the side of the road in a safe manner where legally allowed to do so and figure out where I am. How many other drivers can honestly say the same?

    • JeffHB

      I am not a Prius driver. But I drive at the speed limit and find that road rage is a constant problem just as you do. Not long ago, I was in the left lane of a local road and was nearly forced into a multicar collision by a road raging cop tailgating me because I was not driving at 75 like he was. I was legally driving at 54 in a 55 mph zone and was in the left lane because I needed to make a left turn a half mile ahead.

      I think that it is driving conservatively that invites the road ragers to act badly. And the responsibility for 90% of this problem lies with police dapartments. Cops do not enforce the speed laws. They give you 5 to 10 mph leeway above the limit if you are white. If you obey the speed laws strictly, they will pull you over for “driving erratically” because you create problems for the speeders. It is not because they are A**holes. It is because Speeding tickets are a significant local revenue source and enforcement is slanted towards maximizing revenues. So the entrapment continues and grows. If you obey the law you are going to get stopped more frequently. If you speed you mostly get away wirh it.

      So corrupt police department policies as well as road rage are frequently the cause of the problem.

      But I have also noticed that prius drivers often times deliberately drive in a manner designed to maximize fuel economy. They accelerate very slowly following slowdowns over traffic or hills. This annoys the hell out of aggressive drivers.

      But the problem is not caused by bias against prius drivers. The entire problem is caused by the cops. In states that enforce speed limits strictly, drivers are far more courteous. The selective enforcement policies of the cops means it is dangerous to obey the speed law.

  • http://www.temposportsent.com/ Deric M

    I was great experience on sports car ricing. Actually it’s my favorite hobby. I like fiat.