Study: Hummers get the most tickets
An insurance research firm has found that drivers of that icon of climate-trashing excess, the Hummer, are more likely to get traffic tickets than drivers of any other vehicle.
An insurance research firm has found that drivers of that icon of climate-trashing excess, the Hummer, are more likely to get traffic tickets than drivers of any other vehicle.Skip to next paragraph
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The San Francisco company Quality Planning studied moving violations issued to drivers of various models in the United States and found that drivers of the Hummer H2 and H3 were 4.63 times more likely than the average driver to be ticketed.
Then comes Quality Planning's armchair psychology:
Speculating why certain vehicles (and their drivers) are ticketed more or less frequently is a subject of great debate. The driver behind the wheel of one vehicle may be eager to express his individuality, while another views his vehicle as nothing more than a way to get from A to B. Mark S. Foster, author of "A Nation on Wheels: The Automobile Culture in America Since 1945," offered his assessment on the statistics: "Hummer drivers feel like kings of the road because of their elevated driving position. As these statistics show, they are leading the pack when it comes to violating the law, which may reflect their driving attitude."
"The sense of power that Hummer drivers derive from their vehicle may be directly correlated with the number of violations they incur," said Dr. Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning. "Or perhaps Hummer drivers, by virtue of their driving position, are less likely to notice road hazards, signs, pedestrians, and other drivers."
Read carefully, and you'll see two distinct hypotheses lurking in these paragraphs:
Hypothesis #1: Hummers make people drive like jerks
As Dr. Bhat alludes, the blind spots created by the Hummer's height, gun-slit windows, and tailgate-mounted spare tire are legendary. The design of the vehicle makes it easier to miss things like road signs, pedestrians, and bloggers on scooters.
A 2004 New Yorker article about SUVs by Malcolm Gladwell suggests that many of the features of big SUVs – the height, the four-wheel drive, the sound insulation – tend to rob drivers of feedback, making them think that they are safer than they actually are. As I suggested in a post back in June, it's possible that drivers are actually safest when they feel a little unsafe.
The height could be particularly troublesome. In his fascinating book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), journalist Tom Vanderbilt cites studies that show that drivers seated at higher eye sights tend to drive faster than those at lower heights. The farther you are from the ground, writes Mr. Vanderbilt, the better you can to make out the texture of the road, which gives you a better sense of how fast you are going.
Vanderbilt also notes studies that show that SUV and pickup drivers tend to speed more than others, although in an endnote he cautions these findings could be confounded by the fact that these vehicles tend to be driven by males, who generally to drive faster than females. This brings us to...
Hypothesis #2: Jerks are more likely to drive Hummers