Does your driving style reveal something about your personality?

I have had occasion lately to take the normal commuter’s route from Monroe NY to Westchester County NY and back, and I’ve had the “pleasure” of doing it at rush hour

highwayFor those of you who do not live in the area, this drive constitutes a 40 mile route on a three lane highway, and includes a ride over a 3 mile bridge.  Google Maps indicates the drive should take about 50 minutes.  In rush hour, it’s rarely less than an hour and 15 minutes. 

But this blog is not a complaint about the time it takes or a discussion about the huge number of cars on the road.  What I’ve observed is there are a few distinct driving styles evident, and I’m wondering if our driving styles reflect something about our “real life” personality. 

So here are the types of drivers I’ve seen and my questions on whether driving styles say something about the drivers “real life” behavior.  (PS, if you happen to fall into one of these categories and don’t like what I’m suggesting, please note I’m just questioning whether this is true, not stating a fact.  Definitely set me straight if it’s appropriate!).

Responsible:  These drivers drive just a little below or a little above the speed limit.  They use their signals with plenty of warning, and they change lanes only when it’s safe and they have plenty of room.  If traffic goes slowly, they might moan, but they go slowly as well.  Bottom line, these individuals drive legally, responsibly and safely.

Real Life:  Do you think these individuals are the same in their real lives?  That they typically play by the rules and follow the laws?  For the most part they do what is expected.  They perform their jobs responsibly and contribute to society.  Based on their driving skills, I would suggest these are solid and dependable people.

speedingSpeedy:  These drivers can’t go slowly.  They drive fast in whatever lane they are in, and come up on the back bumper of the car in front of them.  They either hover there, eventually making the car in front speed up, or they pull into a lane to get around the slower driver.  They wonder how long it will take them to get where they’re going if they go 10 miles faster per hour. If you’re not sure if this describes you, one day try an experiment.  Make it a point to drive exactly at the speed limit.  Does it make you crazy?  Do you find a few minutes later you glance down and you’re driving 15 miles too fast but you didn’t even feel the car increase in speed?   

Real life:  I wonder whether these people speed through life, running from one event to another, trying to jam too much into the day.  They speed home because they have a ton of things to get done in the evening and really don’t have time to spend on the road.  Or they speed to work because they were busy filling their morning with Must-Do’s before they left so they’re now running behind.  There is just too much to do in their day and not enough time to do it.  Perhaps these drivers are rule-breakers in their real life.

frogFrogger:  Back in the dark ages when I was a teen (the 70’s!), there was an arcade game called Frogger, where you had to navigate a frog through all sorts of “lanes” of hazards.  This is what I equate these particular drivers to – these are the ones that dart from lane to lane, from the left to middle to right back to the middle to the left.  They squeeze into spots with hardly enough room for a Peel Trident (http://www.toxel.com/tech/2010/06/05/worlds-smallest-cars/), making the person they’re pulling in front of slam on their brakes (and somewhat like dominos, causing brake lights to go on for the following five miles).  The bottom line is that all this back and forth doesn’t really get them anywhere.  They wind up perhaps a car length ahead of where they would have been if they stayed in the same lane.  My guess is they just like the feeling of constant movement; but to what end?.

Real Life: In their daily life, are these people ineffective?  Are these the people at work that are always very busy doing busy-work, but don’t really make much progress? Do they fill their days up with activities but at the end of the day can’t check anything off as “complete”?

Shoulder:  These are the drivers who make their own lane, since everyone in the official lanes are just driving too slow for them.  When traffic in the three official lanes is stopped or crawling at 10mph or even going at the speed limit, they drive on the right hand shoulder so they get further than everyone else.  Their need to get to where they are going is more critical than everyone else’s safety (or their own).

Real life:  Are these people those who believe that rules do not apply to them?  In the business world, are these the ones that arrive and depart meetings whenever they feel like it, or complete assignments on their own timetable?  Or perhaps are these actually entreprenuerial in spirit, deciding to do everything their own way? 

turtleTurtle:  This is the person who does not drive over 30 or 40mph.  Regardless of where they are.  In fact, often times, these people refuse to get on a highway since everyone drives too fast for them.  But if they do decide to attempt the highway drive, they drive the minimum speed they can, and they are sitting at the front edge of their seat, with their face up near the steering wheel peering out of the front window.  

Real life:  Are these people who are afraid of life? Afraid of change? Do they tend to go to work, go straight home, and never venture too far off the familiar?

I’m sure there are more “types” of drivers, but those are the main differences I’ve seen.   So is there a link between driving styles and personality traits?  Is there no link? 

I think there is a link.  In terms of my driving style, I tend to fluctuate between the first two categories; although it’s probably a 75% responsible, 25% speedy mix.  I basically follow the rules; but I do go faster than I should.  In my real life, I am dependable, solid and responsible, but I do sometimes do things that are not expected.  I also do tend to jam a lot into my days.  I’m always thinking of the next four things I want to do after I finish whatever I am doing so I do tend to go a bit faster than I should.  So I think in my case, I would fit the assumption that there is a link between driving styles and real life actions.  

What about you?

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