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Is Overconfidence in Driving Skills Killing Us in Car Accidents?

Confidence is usually a great thing. It is what allows us to succeed in our careers, take new risks, try new hobbies, and lead a full life. Behind the wheel of a car, however, overconfidence can lead to car accidents in Hollywood and other cities as well as fatalities.

Most of us realize that many motorists overestimate their driving ability. A new study from the New Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Australia has concluded that overconfident drivers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. According to the study of more than 1300 drivers, about 65% of motorists classified their driving skills as better than average.

Of these overconfident drivers, most were male, urban, and younger. In fact, about 72% of men and 53% of women surveyed ranked themselves as better than average drivers. About 72% of urban drivers listed their skills as better than average, compared to 62% of drivers from smaller cities classifying themselves the same way. About 73% of drivers in the 26-39 year old age group described the driving skills as better than average.

What is more troubling is what else overconfident drivers agreed with. About 82% of drivers who described themselves as better than average didn’t agree that speeding increased the risk of an accident. This is in comparison to 87% of self-described average drivers who did think that speeding was linked to accident risk. About 82% of overconfident drivers thought that penalties did not discourage speeding. In comparison, about 82% of self-described average drivers saw a link between penalties and reduced speeds.

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While the study is interesting, more research needs to be done to determine exactly how overconfidence can lead to accidents. However, there is some common sense and anecdotal evidence that suggests that overconfidence can lead to accidents.

So what are some of the ways that overconfidence can lead to car and motorcycle accidents in Hollywood and other cities? A few possibilities:

•Overconfident drivers may be less likely to feel they need seatbelts, helmets on a motorcycle and other safety devices
•Overconfident drivers may blame other drivers for accidents rather than focusing on improving their own skills so that they can prevent car and pedestrian accidents in Hollywood or their communities
•Overconfident drivers may take more risks (such as speeding) because they wrongfully believe that they can “handle” it.
•Overconfident drivers may be more aggressive and impatient with drivers they feel are not as skilled.
•Overconfident drivers can miss important cues. A University of Utah study concluded that overconfident drivers have “Inattention blindness” which makes them miss important cues – up to half the information in front of them – because they believe they have strong enough driving skills to multitask while driving.

It would be wonderful to see some more research to determine whether these links in fact exist.

What do you think? Do you think that too much confidence makes drivers dangerous?


If you have been injured by an aggressive driver or any reckless driver, contact the Flaxman Law Group to schedule a free, no obligation case review.