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Everyone seems to be the most effective driver

More than 70 percent of drivers consider themselves above average. The truth often looks different

No, but just look at that idiot, he can’t drive! I certainly thought of it for another driver at some point, perhaps even today. But as French singer Pierre Perret sang in 1992: “Nous sommes toujours le con de quelqu’un” – we’re always in love with someone. This applies to life as in The street. In fact, most of us seem to draw the line between a good driver and a bad driver in a very subjective way.” Most motorists see themselves as a measure of all things. Ask yourself: How would I have acted in this situation myself? “Whoever deviates from this signal is judged negative.” Some consider a person who drives too fast or too slow to be worse. “There is no universal definition,” Michael Roy and Michael Lerch, researchers at the National Institutes of Health in New York, wrote in a 2014 article. of good driving ability, so self-definitions can arise.” “For example, one person may find it more important to be a polite and safe driver, while another feels it is better to be a fast and aggressive driver.” Daniel Menzi, coach A former driver and board member of Swissdrive, an organization that promotes road safety, notes this difficulty in identifying a good driver in practice.” “Many believe that being a good driver means having extraordinary skills, for example being able to bring a vehicle back under control that you started in slipping,” Menzie explains.

Personal, but what the heck…

Since there is no generally accepted definition, Michael Roy and Michael Lerch wanted to get the residents’ opinion. They asked 600 students to rank seven criteria that make a “good driver” in order of importance: attention, patience, control of blind spots, adherence to the speed limit, and so on. Unsurprisingly, results varied widely, although attention is often cited as the number one characteristic of an ideal driver. In the second step, the same participants must rank the same skills not from their own point of view, but from the perspective of others. Through this experiment, the researchers wanted to show that the term “good driver” is a very subjective term and that drivers are familiar with it in one way or another.

The result showed that respondents know that their definition of a good driver may be their own definition, but this does not prevent them from considering themselves as excellent drivers nonetheless. Michael Roy and Michael Lerch put it bluntly in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology: “For some drivers, their ability to text while driving may be one of the traits that makes them special and superior drivers in their eyes. Or at least they don’t believe that texting behind the wheel makes them Bad drivers.

This tendency to see oneself better than others is confirmed by another part of Roy and Lierch’s study. The researchers asked the participants to rate their leadership skills compared to others. On average, those surveyed consider themselves to be better drivers than 70 percent of other drivers – a finding that aligns with those of previous studies. In 2003, the Journal of Safety Research published a study by Alan Williams, in which 673 out of 909 road users rated themselves as better than the average driver. Altogether, 74 percent of drivers consider themselves better than average – to the delight of the statisticians.

Overconfidence as a Danger

The problem is that this gross overestimation of one’s abilities is not only a form of narcissism, but can also pose a road safety risk. Unfortunately, this weak capacity for self-interrogation is more pronounced in men than in women. “When they learn to drive and fail to do something, men blame the car in 80 percent of cases,” Daniel Menzi says. “Women are much more self-critical, wondering why they can’t do the job and asking for tips to improve.” Ove Ewert doesn’t come to the aid of men either: “Women are more objective and self-critical when they lead.” Older adults, who are overrepresented in accident statistics, are also more willing to question themselves, Ue Ewert continues: “They know that their cognitive and physical abilities are decreasing over time. Some find that they do not drive as well as they used to, which is why they voluntarily give up their license their leadership.” However, the traffic psychologist emphasizes that the case of the elderly remains an exception, and it rarely happens that people know that they drive bad cars. “I think everyone tries to do the best according to their abilities and capabilities. Someone has the feeling of driving well, but other drivers don’t see it that way.”

Accident numbers as a consensus

Understandably, objectivity appears to be drifting away by this tide of self-referential specificity. However, researchers do not give up hope of finding an objective definition of a good driver. “You should combine both approaches, for example by doing studies with motivations for a personal approach,” suggests Nicholas Kessler of the Counseling Center for Accident Prevention (BFU). “For an objective approach, we could imagine attaching sensors to a vehicle to measure the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral acceleration and lane compliance on a standard road.” In general, the approach proposed by the BTU is not technically different from that of some insurance companies that offer a black box that records the behavior of the insured on the road. This aftermarket device monitors a number of parameters, such as acceleration or braking, to determine who is a good driver and who is a bad driver. Anyone who brakes suddenly or accelerates sharply is classified as somewhat careless and therefore does not get an excellent opponent.

According to these criteria set by insurance companies, road safety appears to be an objective element in determining a good driver. An approach that seems to appeal to Uwe Ewert: “Accident risk, number and severity of accidents can often be taken as objective criteria for determining whether a particular group of people drives better or worse.” However, this minimal consensus on security is neither new nor surprising. Politicians have also understood that the promise of more safety through fewer accidents is a difficult argument to counter. It makes it possible to implement strict measures. Greetings via sicura.

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