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7 SA driving personalities: What's yours?

2015-12-07 11:38

WHAT'S YOUR DRIVING PERSONALITY? Social psychologists from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) believe they've identified seven personality types on the road. Image: iStock

Cape Town -  Whether you're on summer holidays or driving to work, spending time on South Africa's roads can be a stressful and frustrating experience.

Social psychologists from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) believe they've identified seven personality types on the road.

Driver behaviour

An ongoing study on the social psychology of road safety conducted jointly by LSE and tyre manufacturer Goodyear, has identified different ways that people respond when they interact with other drivers on the road.

These are based on how they deal with their own feelings and their uncertainty as to the behavior of other road users.

Through focus groups and in-depth interviews with drivers, researchers found seven personalities frequently manifest themselves:

1 The Teacher:


The Teacher needs to make sure other drivers know what they have done wrong and expects recognition of his/her efforts to teach others.

2 The Know-it-all:

The Know-it-all thinks he/she is surrounded by incompetent fools and contents themselves with shouting condescendingly at other drivers while being protected in their own vehicles.

3 The Competitor:


The Competitor needs to get ahead of other road users and is annoyed when someone gets in the way of that.

He/she might accelerate when someone tries to overtake or close a gap to prevent anyone from getting in front of them.

4 The Punisher:


The Punisher wants to punish other drivers for any perceived misbehavior on the road. He/She might end up getting out of their vehicle or approaching other drivers directly.

5 The Philosopher:


The Philosopher accepts misbehaviour easily and tries to rationally explain it. Manages to control his/her feelings.

6 The Avoider:


The Avoider treats misbehaving other drivers impersonally, dismisses them as a hazard.

7 The Escapee:


The Escapee listens to music or talks on the phone to insulate him/herself.

Escapees distract themselves with selected social relationships so that they do not have to relate to any of the other drivers on the road. It’s also a strategy for being frustrated behind the wheel.

Driving style

These 'driving personalities' emerge in different situations when drivers interact with others on the road.

The personality types emerged out of the first part of the joint research project, which takes a qualitative look into driving behavior through focus groups and in-depth interviews.


What's your driving personality? Have you identified any unique road user personalities on SA's roads? Email usand we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

Driving personality test


Defensive driving

Tracy Maclear, marketing and brand manager for Goodyear South Africa, said:

“Although the research was conducted in Europe, these driver personalities are visible on South African roads as well. We are all able to identify with at least one personality type. 

"The research is therefore valuable in understanding one’s own driving style and being aware of that during the upcoming festive season, when many of us take to the roads for the holidays."

'Create personalities we don't like'

Chris Tennant, social psychologist, who is leading the research project at LSE, explained: “Much of the time we can sit happily in the comfortable bubble of our car, but around any corner we may have to interact with other drivers. 

This makes the road a challenging and uncertain social environment. While we may worry about others’ driving, this research suggests that their behavior also depends on what we do. We create the personalities that we don’t like.

"From a psychological point of view, these different types of personalities represent different outlets that drivers use to deal with their frustrations and strong feelings.

"We are not always entirely one or the other. Depending on the situation and the interaction with others, most of us will find several of these profiles emerge.”

All images: iStock



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