It is an infamous statistic: 80% of drivers think they are safer than the average driver. But where does it come from? And does it actually impact how often car accidents happen?
Most Drivers Rate Themselves Better Than Average
Back in 1980, a Swedish psychologist named Ola Svenson conducted a study: In two different sessions, he asked 81 American college students and 80 Swedish graduate students to rank their driving ability among their peers. The results were striking: 88% of the Americans and 77% of the Swedes ranked themselves in the top half when it came to driving safely. When they were asked to rank their driving skill, 93% of the Americans said they were better than average, compared to 69% of the Swedish students.
The study was one of several others that proved the same thing – people have a tendency to overestimate their own abilities. One of them showed that 90% of college professors thought they were above average teachers, while another found that, out of 800,000 high school students, only 1% thought their social skills were below average.
The Lake Wobegon Effect
In the world of psychology, this is known as illusory superiority. However, it is better known as the Lake Wobegon Effect. This name comes from the radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, which is set in a fictional town in Minnesota called Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”
Impact on Car Accidents
Obviously, not everyone can be above average. Exactly half of all drivers have to be in the bottom half when it comes to driving skills and safety. Therefore, there are many people who are convinced that they are far better on the roads than they really are.
This has an impact on the number of car accidents that we see across the country and in St. Joseph, Missouri, through the number of people who think they can still drive well while they are distracted. Distracted driving is one of the major causes of car crashes in the U.S., today. However, 60% of drivers use their cell phones while behind the wheel, even though 91% know it is unsafe. They seem to be convinced that it is dangerous, but only for other people who are not as good at driving as they are. The results, though, speak for themselves: Fatal car accidents are climbing at an alarming rate, even when adjusting for the numbers of miles driven.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Distracted driving is a major problem on the roads of Missouri and the rest of America. Drivers who are not paying attention to the road drastically increase the risk of hitting and hurting innocent victims.
If you or someone you love has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, you deserve compensation for your losses. Reach out to the personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph. Call us at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.