Jokes about BMW drivers being, on average, somewhat less than courteous are fairly common. They often run along the lines of, “Despite its good brakes, a BMW will usually stop with a jerk.” Sometimes the language is more colourful.
Paul K Piff, a researcher at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, has conducted a study linking bad driving habits with wealth.
The study was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.
The study also found that male drivers were less likely to stop for pedestrians than were women, and that drivers of both sexes were more likely to stop for a female pedestrian than a male one.
“One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop,” said Piff, adding, “BMW drivers were the worst.”
In the San Francisco Bay area, where the hybrid gas-and-electric-powered Toyota Prius is considered a status symbol among the environmentally conscious, the researchers classified it as a premium model.
“In our higher-status vehicle category, Prius drivers had a higher tendency to commit infractions than most,” Piff said.