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Driving Habits

Think you know which drivers are safest? The answer may surprise you Add to ...

We’re all too familiar with the automotive stereotypes: speed demons at the wheels of Lambos, Porsches and Ferraris like to burn rubber; Volvo drivers think safety first; Hybrid motorists are tree-hugging plodders and BMW enthusiasts are, well, y’know ... less than revered.

However, a study commissioned by insurance website Kanetix.ca disputes many of these preconceptions. “Based on millions of quotes over a two-year period,” it compiled some interesting data on Canadian motorists and their driving habits. Among the findings:

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  • Only 5 per cent of drivers of Aston Martins have been involved in an accident, followed by Lamborghini drivers (7 per cent) and Porsche drivers (9 per cent).

“It’s a surprising finding, because it’s true, many of us do perceive drivers of high-end vehicles to have a somewhat heavy foot on the pedal considering all that horsepower,” Natasha Carr, a spokeswoman for Kanetix.ca, said in an e-mail. “It may be that drivers of these vehicles take special care to keep these cars in mint condition and are more sensitive to the insurance costs to cover damage.”

  • Kia led the way at the other end of the spectrum. Fifteen per cent of Kia drivers have been in a collision, followed by Ford, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda and Nissan motorists, all at 14 per cent. The average accident rate for all vehicles was 13 per cent.

So why are Kias involved in more crashes? “We have observed that younger drivers tend to have the most accidents and young drivers tend to drive less expensive vehicles,” said Carr.

  • Infiniti drivers are more likely to break a rule of the road – 29 per cent – compared to the national average of 22 per cent. BMW, Land Rover, Lincoln and Porsche motorists (each at 26 per cent) were also more likely to be pulled over by police.

“We didn’t specifically look at the profile of the Infiniti driver but perhaps their marketing is working,” said Carr. “A recent Globe article quoted Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's design director, as saying, ‘I want to capture a kind of emotional spontaneity in the design that I don’t think other auto makers have ever attempted. I want a Latin look which, to me, means romance and red-blooded sensuality.’ Perhaps we can draw our own conclusions from that.

“It’s also worth noting,” said Carr, “that almost four times more men drive Infinitis and males tend to get more tickets and be in more accidents.”

  • The best behaved motorists - the ones who obey the rules of the road and avoid tickets? Lamborghini (16 per cent) and Aston Martin (18 per cent) drivers.

“Just like the cars, perhaps drivers of these high-end vehicles are also in a class of their own; precise, controlled, and focused on the task at hand with superior handling,” said Carr.

  • Fifty-three per cent of all Canadians have a clean driving record – no tickets or accidents.

But what about the stereotypical BMW driver, the motorist that everyone loves to hate?

“There’s no data to prove that BMW drivers are the most unpleasant of us all,” said Carr. “Perhaps a lot of us have encountered an unsafe driver of this type of car, and maybe it’s more memorable because it’s a high-end car.”

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Correction: The quote attributed to Alfonso Albaisa in the story above was incorrectly attributed to Tim Franklin in an earlier version of this story.

Follow on Twitter: @WoodyMcGee

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