You begin to cross the road as two cars approach: a beater, and a luxury sedan. Which is likely to stop? According to new research, the beater will stop nearly ever time. The luxury sedan? Not so much.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the United States of America has found that owners of luxury cars are more likely to break the rules than other drivers.
In one test, researchers observed a crosswalk, had a pedestrian step onto the road, and take down the drivers reaction. This was done for 152 drivers. The test was done in California, where state law requires motorists to stop at crosswalks when pedestrians are present.
In a second test, researchers watch a four-way-stop intersection for a week, and noted how likely drivers were to cut ahead of other drivers when it wasn’t their turn. In both tests, researchers noted the age and sex of the drivers, and categorized the make of the cars. A one indicated a cheap, beat-up car, whereas a five would be a well-maintained luxury car.
In the first test, men were less likely to stop for pedestrians than women and drivers of both sexes were more likely to stop for a female pedestrian than a male one. However, the most significant predictor of behaviour was the value of the cars. Luxury models were less likely to stop for pedestrians, with BMWs being the worst offenders—although Priuses apparently performed badly too. Beaters always stopped for pedestrians.
In the second test, researchers found that drivers of luxury cars were more likely to jump on someone else’s turn than other drivers.
Thankfully, researchers didn’t conduct their test in Toronto, as it would have revealed that twenty-five per cent of everyone—drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians—are jerks.