SUVs and expensive cars make you dangerous drivers

Heavier and more expensive cars tend to be poor drivers. We don’t say that, but science, and Business Insider, which devotes an article to the question of the psychology of the automotive industry and the relationship between the attitude on the road and the type of vehicle driven.

The US site reports a study by researchers in Las Vegas in 2019. When they sent a white man, a white woman, a black woman and a black man through the streets of a limited speed zone, they tried to find a relationship between skin color and the gender of pedestrians and the attitude of motorists towards them.

Bad luck: both criteria don’t seem to have a particularly noticeable impact. However, a minority of cars slowed down to leave politely, when most did not care about these humans on foot and accelerated so as not to miss a second by letting them cross. Only 129 vehicles stopped out of the 461 observed.

Scientists broke their brains to explain the phenomenon, until they took all the videotapes of the experiment and listed the models of cars involved in this especially uncivil “road rage.”

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

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

Stop your car

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

At the same time, the number of dead pedestrians on the roads followed the same trend in the United States, even achieving the sad feat of increasing during the pandemic as fewer cars were driven.

The technique is not absent from this phenomenon: when a normal-sized car cuts its legs, huge SUVs collide with the whole body, of adults but even more so of children, whose heads sometimes do not even reach the height of the hood of the vehicle. In terms of weight, we let you imagine the difference between the impact, at low and high speed, of a 2-ton SUV and that of a medium-heavy Twingo.

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

“The problem is, in general, it may be reducing our collective security.”specifies the American, responsible for a study linking pedestrian deaths with the highest concentration of large cars.

To which we can add that this sense of security is just a feeling: no, children are no safer in an SUV than in a classic car, especially because doubling the risk of overturning nullifies the benefits of the height and weight.

The change is also made at the level of driving style. An article published earlier this year showed that the safer the driver felt in his cab, the more he tended to take risks, to slow down late, to accelerate suddenly, to exceed speed limits; in short, to do anything that could lead to fatal accidents.

Professor 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 a certain material comfort. . important to show.

“They are more self-centered, more selfish, they make decisions based on their own interests rather than those of others.”says of the individuals who buy these massive, expensive and polluting vehicles. “All of this comes together in an SUV to create a person who is less understanding with their neighbor than if they didn’t drive an SUV.”

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