93% of people who drive believe they’re better-than-average drivers.
Anybody else see the math problem here?
This came to mind yesterday, as I swore at the bone-headed stunts of other Calgary drivers.
I just spent three weeks in small-town Manitoba, and I did most of my driving on the wide-open four-lane TransCanada Highway. Traffic is light in the winter, so the statistical probability of encountering an idiot driver is satisfyingly low.
Unless of course, I’m the idiot I’m trying to avoid. More on that later.
The idiosyncrasies of small-town drivers don’t bother me. There, I expect people to double- and triple-park, turn without signalling, and brake to a halt in the middle of the street for a visit with the driver of an oncoming vehicle.
What the heck, it’s a small town. They don’t need to signal; everybody knows where they’re going. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, they’re going for coffee at the bake shop. Saturday mornings, it’s breakfast at the café. The last Friday of every month is pizza night at Joe’s. No problem.
So I was shocked when I was forced to call somebody a butthead within two minutes of leaving my driveway here in Calgary. I’d gotten out of the habit of muttering verbal abuse at other drivers. But by the time I’d completed my one-hour trip, the habit was firmly reestablished. Apparently Calgary has an extremely high population density of idiot drivers.
Hey, that sounds like a collective noun: a murder of crows; a density of idiots…
Anyway, when I went looking for driving statistics, I discovered this wiki on illusory superiority. To grossly oversimplify the article: the stupider you are, the more likely you are to believe you’re smart. And the worse you are at a specific skill (like driving), the more likely you are to believe you’re good at it.
That explains a lot. And it makes me nervous.
Despite my one-time nickname, “Fender Bender“, I’ve always thought I’m a pretty good driver. I took a motorcycle safety course back in the 80s, and I’ve never lost those defensive driving habits. Alert caution is a good idea when you can be effortlessly wiped off the road by anything, including a renegade Canada goose. (True story – happened to a guy my husband knew. The goose hit him in the chest and knocked him right off his bike.)
I won’t pretend I’ve never pulled a dumb move like signalling a turn and then changing my mind, or heading for a parking space only to find it’s occupied and I’m now at a ridiculous angle that requires an embarrassing 3-point turn to escape.
But on the whole, I think I’m okay. I’ve been driving for more than 30 years. I can’t remember the last time anybody honked at me. My passengers don’t scream, lose sphincter control, and/or fling themselves out of the car. I’ve never caused an accident. (Well, except for last fall. But that wasn’t because of my driving.)
So, really, I’m a good driver.
Or maybe that’s just wishful illusory superiority…