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Is Dangerous Driving Genetic?

Researchers at the University of California Irvine have been studying bad driving and have found that genetics may play a role in poor driving performance. According to researchers, drivers with one specific gene variant fared 20% worse on driving tests than drivers without the gene variant. Worse, researchers found that about 30% of drivers in the US may have the gene variant that has been linked to poor driving performance.

According to one of the researchers, Dr. Steven Cramer subjects who have the gene variant showed less recall of driving instruction and made more driving mistakes than subjects without the variant. The research team examined 29 drivers, asking each driver to drive 15 laps on a track using a simulator. All subjects were asked to repeat the driving exercise a week later. 22 people tested did not have the gene variant and seven of the subjects did have the variant.

The research found that those with the variant consistently did worse on the driving test, even with practice. According to the scientists, the gene impacts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that has been linked to memory performance.

Researchers will need to run tests with larger test groups to determine whether the test results hold out with larger test samples. Cramer and his team are also excited about the possibility of studying the variant in terms of car accidents. The researchers would be interested in exploring whether the rate of car accidents and pedestrian accidents is higher among drivers with the gene variant.

Whether you have the gene variant or not, however, experts agree that a genetic factor is not usually the be-all or end-all of driving skills. Like many skills, good driving can be taught. Genetics is no excuse for poor or reckless driving. If you are worried about your driving skills, seek the help of a qualified instructor who can help you brush up on your skill level.