Turns out ol’ F. Scott Fitzgerald was right. The rich really are different from you and me.
Especially when they get behind the wheel.
Did you see this story? A study suggests people who drive luxury automobiles which shall remain nameless but whose initials include B. M., and W. act like they own the road and the rest of us are just using it at their sufferance.
Here’s the gist of it:
Researchers at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California in Berkeley, studying behavior and wealth, devoted a portion of their research to driving habits.
They looked at two situations: One at an intersection in which a pedestrian entered a crosswalk as a car approached (under California law, the car is required to stop and let the pedestrian cross); and at a four-way stop with more than one car at the crossroads.
In each case they found the more expensive the car, the more low-rent the behavior – and the more low-value the car, the nicer the driver.
“You see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars,” said researcher Paul K. Piff. “In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater category drove through the crosswalk. They always stopped for pedestrians.
“BMW drivers were the worst.”
The study also found that at four-way stops, the old rule about the car on the right going first was pretty much ignored by the well-heeled and well-wheeled.
Now, this is not to suggest that all rich people are rude drivers, or that all rude drivers are rich, or that all who drive Beemers are rich and rude. Some are upper middle class and rude.
Kidding. Just a little BMW humor there.
No, really, we’ve all run across (or been run into by) plenty of examples that defied the study results. Think about the examples you see every day coming home from work. You don’t have to have money to be a non-signaling turner and lane-changer, a tailgater, a passenger-side passer, or a soon-as-the-light-turns-green-horn-honker.
But still, there must be something to the survey. I wonder if the take-away isn’t so much a question of money making people into bad drivers, as making them arrogant. I think it might have something to do with isolation, of people who use wealth to wrap themselves in a sort of cocoon not just behind the wheel but in every aspect of their lives. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a certain kind of isolation.
Or so I surmise. Having never had money to speak of, I can’t really say.
But I can say that when you see me rumbling up to a four-way stop, you can be sure I’ll be polite about taking my turn. I drive an old truck.