An interesting article appeared in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, last year: “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior.” Thank you to Xenophilius for posting a link to this. Basically, the paper reports the behavior of motorists based on the ‘status level’ of the car they drive. “[W]e used observers’ codes of vehicle status (make, age, and appearance) to index drivers’ social class.” Unfortunately, this is all that was said in the article and its supplementary material about how ‘vehicle status’ was calculated.
I can’t say that the results of this study are surprising, but it does provide some support for the feeling that people in ‘rich’ cars act more callously towards people than those who drive more common vehicles. The data presented here shows the likelihood of a car yielding to a pedestrian at a crosswalk (something mandated by California State Law.
I have always remained convinced that BMWs are the only cars on the road where blinkers come as optional equipment.
July 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Around here it’s the Mercedes and Audis that are most problematic. From experience I’ve seen the rich, entitled folks around here crash their car into a lot of things — sometimes even cops. The culture of entitlement is thick around Carmel, Indiana.
July 27, 2013 at 8:02 am
Hi Grace. Where is that?
In most places I’ve lived, Mercedes and Audis reflect ‘old money’ which I associate (oddly) less with entitlement than ‘new money’ BMW drivers.
(I didn’t realize how oxymoronic that sounded until I wrote it down)
July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am
I live on the north side of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Carmelites (that’s what they call themselves) just north of us by three blocks buy Audis, Mercedes, BMWs (only sports cars), Porsches, and the occasional hybrids more often than anything else. If you head over to the Fashion Mall (where they only sell high end designer clothing), you’ll see a whole parking lot full of them — all of them glued to an iPhone too.
The BMW drivers around here actually get looked down upon. When I worked at the Fashion Mall I heard one snooty girl saying, “BMWs are so out of style. I want Daddy to buy me an Audi.” Obviously, Audi is now the new fad around here. However, those that can afford it buy Mercedes or Porsch SUVs. The males will drive the 911s and the females will drive the Cheyenne.
The Volkswagons, Priuses (or other hybrids), Saabs, and Volvos are somewhat common as status icons as well. Obviously, it depends on if you want the “foreign car” status or the “greener than thou” status.
I’d have to say that since moving here a year ago I’ve seen more accidents caused by people driving while glued to their phone than anything else. Several of these accidents happened in front of cops, and once one ran into the side of a cop car while not paying attention. And forget us pedestrians — we don’t exist. To have to walk is “so low class”. Though, riding a bike is OK since it’s green, but it’s better if you look like you dropped $5000+ on a fancy bike, racing outfit and an accessory to use your iPhone while you ride. They might notice you enough to swerve then.
I, personally, have a bike with no fancy outfit or accessories. I’m doomed. 😉