• Jan 5, 2011
A new study from researchers in Australia may have dug up one of the reasons why drivers exceed the speed limit on their way to work. According to the Toronto Sun, a new study has found that drivers who are bored behind the wheel are more likely to put the right pedal to the floor. Researchers at Newcastle University asked drivers to answer a few questions about their driving habits and found that 31 percent of those behind the wheel are inattentive and dangerous. More surprisingly, 35 percent of those polled were classified as enthusiastic and attentive. These are the motorists that enjoy driving, but go faster when their stimulus levels decrease. The study also found that 21 percent of those polled dislike driving and move slower, while members of the smallest group, just 13 percent of the total respondents, were branded slow and safe.

Interestingly, researchers concluded that the influx of devices designed to make driving easier has led to the impression that operating a vehicle is akin to a chore. Rather than making drivers safer, the gadgets have actually led to increased inattentiveness. Basically, the perception of safety has increased the likelihood of risk taking.

Sounds like it's high time that vehicles made drivers fear for their lives once again. In all seriousness, the researchers have apparently recommended adding more turns to roads and incorporating shared space to force drivers to pay attention, among other actions.

[Source: The Toronto Sun | Image: Alexander F. Yuan/AP]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I remember a comedian doing a sketch about how safer cars make for less careful drivers - "So what if I hit someone - I've got airbags..."

      His solution was to replace the airbag with an airspike - a three foot long spike that would deploy through the steering wheel and into the head of the driver should he be stupid enough to actually get into an accident..........

      I laughed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe just do a PSA campaign on how dangerous airbags are. Some guy's driving like a tool and gets flagged down by a cop. "This is what an airbag feels like," the cop says. Then Mike Tyson punches him.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anyone who has taken a longer highway route rather than Interstate knows this is the truth. I'd rather take a 10-20% longer route rather than fall asleep on a neverending ribbon of interstate.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Shared space", by which they mean reducing the number of lanes? Two-way traffic with one lane each way?

      You mean that taking drivers out of their little traffic-flow bubble means they start making informed choices for their actions? Who knew?

      I'll often seek out a more interesting route if I'm not in a hurry to get home. As opposed to seeking out unnecessary conversation via a cellphone...
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's not an Australian study ! This is the University of Newcastle in Great Britain.
      And you can find it at http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/one-in-three-motorists-seeks-driving-thrills-to-combat-boredom.

      And the Toronto Sun, and the QMI Agency are also making that stupid mistake !

      • 4 Years Ago
      behavioral economics in action
      • 4 Years Ago
      I normally hate driving on freeways because of how boring they can be, especially in areas still governed by 55mph speed limits. I did quite a bit of autobahn driving on my last trip to Germany and was quite pleased doing so. The reason - I could go as fast as I felt comfortable on the de-restricted (less congested) areas of the autobahn. My mind remained alert and active at those speeds...whereas at 55mph I often find it hard to maintain focus on driving.

      It's amazing that they had to spend time and money to come to the same conclusions most of us knew from the get go. Increase (or eliminate) speed limits in areas where it is safe to do so, bring back the M/Ts, and make cars less numbing!

      • 4 Years Ago
      Great picture!
      • 4 Years Ago
      We've known this would happen for decades.

      Remember the famous Road and Track article that led to the Rush song "Red Barchetta"? In the article, "alloy air cars, two lanes wide" were the original envisioning of today's "safety car", a car so safe that drivers lost all fears of getting into an accident, to the point that some drivers even started crashing into other cars destruction derby style for sport.

      Just today I was driving on a 30 mph road and came to a four-way intersection where one guy had a stop sign and I didn't. The guy literally just drove right in front of me, while I was driving through the intersection at 30 miles an hour! I had to slam on the brakes to keep from T-boning the dumbass. And then he waves his hand as if to say "cool, thanks bro". Thanks for what? Thanks for not putting you in the hospital or worse?

      And that guy drove an older vehicle. It isn't just that vehicles are safer and roads are safer, it's that people are getting dumber and dumber, and are more and more ignorant of the negative effects of, you know, getting T-boned, in a head-on collision, or rear-ending somebody. In my driver's ed, they literally said they wouldn't show "Red Asphalt" or any other gory videos because it was too scary for modern kids. Isn't that, y'know, kinda the point of those videos, to scare stupid teenagers into realizing how they could get themselves killed if they drive like that?

      Bottom line: Drivers are getting worse because of a combination of better roads, better cars, more distractions, and less and less understanding of the fact that a car is basically a two-ton metal box capable of speeds up to 200 miles an hour in some cases, and that no matter how many airbags you put in a car, IF YOU DRIVE STUPIDLY YOU CAN AND WILL DO SERIOUS HARM TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Bored more? Not so much. Driving like morons b/c the safety is such that most walk away from crashes, and there are few (if any) consequences to driving poorly? Absolutely.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If cars were more entertaining at low speeds this might not be such a problem. I don't mind auto transmissions PER SE, but what about things like steering feel, interesting design/materials and less cocooning?

      Problem is, even a sporting affordable car like a VW GTI with a manual trans is kinda dull until you press on speed-wise.

      It would be interesting to make a car that offered entertainment at low speeds, got silent right around the speed limit, then felt downright hairy 20mph above the highest national limit. Then you'd have all the right mix: playful nature at sub-legal speeds, a quiet cruise for highway slogs - then pretty much no reason to venture into the highspeed zone aside from a near heart attack experience.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So travelling on a road with a 35 mph speed limit that was designed to be driven at 55 makes drivers bored? Who would have guessed
      • 4 Years Ago
      Group A: Researchers at Newcastle University asked drivers to answer a few questions about their driving habits and found that 31 percent of those behind the wheel are inattentive and dangerous.

      Group B: More surprisingly, 35 percent of those polled were classified as enthusiastic and attentive. These are the motorists that enjoy driving, but go faster when their stimulus levels decrease.

      Group C: The study also found that 21 percent of those polled dislike driving and move slower,

      GroupD: while members of the smallest group, just 13 percent of the total respondents, were branded slow and safe.

      I belong to "Group B". Imagine that...
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