Self-perception Deception Makes for Dangerous Driving

Do as we say, and not as we do.  -Giovanni Boccaccio, 1313-1375

readingdrivingForbes ran an informative article this week on The Most Dangerous Times to Drive that puts a fine point on one dimension of the self-perception paradox (how we see ourselves versus how we actually are).  Consistently, and across many areas of life, we hold our behavior in far higher regard than our actions demonstrate is deserved, and driving is a fantastic example.  Unfortunately, the end result of this particular example can be fatal (hence the article’s title). I’ve pulled out a few sample facts below.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 95% of all traffic accidents are caused by human error; but when surveyed, 75% of drivers say they are more careful than everyone else on the road

According to the Automobile Association of America, 82% of drivers say that driving while distracted is a serious problem;  but more than half say they talk on a cell phone while driving, and 14% admit to reading and sending text messages while driving

75% of drivers say that speeding is a serious problem; but 20% say that they drive more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on the highway, and 14% say they occasionally do so on neighborhood streets

And the most dangerous time of the year to drive?  It’s not winter. It’s August, on a Saturday.

3 Comments

Filed under About Neuroscience, Books and Ideas

3 responses to “Self-perception Deception Makes for Dangerous Driving

  1. Irrationally high self-regard must have offered major survival advantages throughout our evolutionary history (so how come I didn’t get any of it? ha ha).

    I love your blog, but a quibble–why is “schizophrenia” in your header? In this case it doesn’t even seem to refer to the common misperception of the disorder as involving “split personality.”

  2. You’re absolutely right. I took a mongo liberty with that word, and good alliteration isn’t a good excuse. So I’ve reworked the title, still alliterating, and closer to a more precise meaning. I hope. Though, I do tend to hold my ability to locate precise meanings in irrationally high regard.

  3. If you stop drivers at random and ask them what they’re doing (says one study) 98% of them will say “I’m going to school” or “I’m getting on the highway.” Only 2% will respond with “I’m driving a car.”

    Maybe that’s the answer right there: we’re living in the future and not looking very clearly at the world around us as we drive.

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