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CTC call for bike awareness following driver study

All motorists think they're great, study finds...

Better cycle training for drivers and a stronger awareness of cycling among young people would help to change motorists' perception of themselves as infallible drivers.

That's the view of the CTC following a research study that showed most drivers think they're better than others on the road.

Researcher from Ottawa University polled nearly 400 drivers, ranging from the youngest to the very old, and virtually all rated themselves favourably.

According to the BBC, this was especially true when older drivers were used for comparison, even if the person questioned fell into that category themselves. Such bravado could lead to more accidents, the scientists warned.

Sylvain Gagnon and his team asked the drivers to rate how they would fare with different driving conditions, including poor weather, emergency stops and fast roads with heavy traffic.

They were asked to say how likely they would be to have a crash compared to an average motorist of the same sex.

All drivers, men and women, young and old, rated themselves over the "average motorist", especially when this average motorist fell into the over 65 age category.

Young men felt the most superior, while middle-aged men rated themselves as better than similarly aged drivers, and far superior to younger and older motorists.

Older drivers - aged 65 plus - felt most superior when they compared themselves with motorists of the same age.

The CTC's Debra Rolfe said: “The study is interesting from a psychological view, especially when you consider that many drivers who've hit cyclists say they never saw them. It would be great to see more research into that aspect of drivers' psychology. Thinking you're a good driver seems to give you a sense of self-protection, which isn't always the case.

“The CTC would like to see more cycle awareness training to counter this false confidence on the roads.”

Mr Gagnon said that although driver confidence was good for the ego, it could have dangerous consequences.

"If you think that you are a better driver, then perhaps you start behaving differently behind the wheel and do not pay as much attention as you should.

"This might explain why young men tend to have more accidents on the roads than other drivers."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said: "Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and we have cut the number of people killed on the roads by almost 30% since the mid 1990s.

"But seven people are still dying on our roads each day so we must all do everything we can to further improve safety.

"To ensure that new drivers understand the responsibilities faced by those who use the roads we are currently overhauling the driver training and testing system, including introducing a new pre-driver qualification in safe road use for 14-16 year-olds."

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ourmaninthenorth | 14 years ago

All the more argument for a large spike protruding from the centre of the steering wheel. That would focus attention on slowing down.

Cars are, arguably, too "internally" safe.

OldRidgeback | 14 years ago

It reminds me of when my wife and I made a trip in a car with a friend of my wife. She had only recently passed her test and was a nervous driver who commented about her lack of driving experience. I told her I felt safe in the car with her at the wheel because she clearly was looking around, seeing other road users and being very cautious overall. What I didn't tell her was that her husband's driving scared me witless because he was over-confident and kept his foot to the boards as much as he could.

james-o | 14 years ago

this report is worrying, particulary when you consider that bigger, safer-rated cars have the same effect on most drivers.

"many drivers who've hit cyclists say they never saw them" - B.S., unless maybe the rider has no lights at night.
isn't it time that this 'excuse' was turned on its head to be made an admission of a lack of care and attention, something that can't be excused by sneezing, coughing, lighting a fag etc? (+1 to the CTC stop-smidsy campaign)

interesting / related article from LA paper

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