Canadians are known for many traits – politeness, a taste for doughnuts and a pathological passion for a game played on rock-solid ice in which fist fighting is an accepted practice. Looks like we can add self-delusion to the list.
A whopping 95 per cent of Canucks believe they are good drivers, according to a recent survey of 1,551 motorists age 18 and older, commissioned by the insurance company Belairdirect and conducted by Leger Research.
Ninety-five per cent. Good drivers. Canadians.
It's self-delusion because the very same survey found that 93 per cent admitted to being guilty of bad habits such as distracted driving, eating while driving, talking on a cellphone while driving, applying makeup while driving. According to Belairdirect, 14 per cent admitted being "being romantic or intimate" while driving. It's an interesting paradox. Aside from being very keen in learning how Belairdirect defines the difference between being "romantic" and being "intimate" behind the wheel (I'm thinking use of first names), I'm keen to understand how someone can consider themselves a good driver and at the same time cop to all sorts of bad behaviour.
I suppose it's the manifestation of another celebrated national trait – hypocrisy.
The thinking being: My bad driving is a benign aberration while everyone else's is a scourge. These results are not surprising. Show me someone who thinks they're a good driver and I'll show you someone who's never seen a professional take a car around the track. If we're being honest, most of us are pretty good drivers at best and the thing that keeps us that way is a realistic appraisal of our skills. There's an adage – it's the best swimmers who always drown. Their skill leads them to take risks and those risks can turn deadly. It's the same way with driving – if you think you're "good" than what's the odd transgression? What's wrong with the odd text here or there? Right?
The survey bears this kind of attitude out. Three in 10 drivers (31 per cent) said they'd run a red light and 29 per cent had disobeyed road signs. Three per cent had flossed. To be fair, this makes sense, you want your teeth to look their best when the emergency crew is picking them out of the wreckage. The good-news portion of the survey results – Belairdirect called it "upholding our Canadian reputation for being nice and good natured" – was the fact 96 per cent of drivers said they would not steal a parking spot or speed up to prevent someone from passing.
Really? That's the "nice and good natured" bar? Don't steal a parking spot or speed up so as not to get passed? If I said I told you "I will never steal a wallet or intentionally run someone off a cliff," would you nominate me for a Nobel Peace Prize?
And yet, there is hope for a little redemption. Seventy-nine per cent of drivers said they'd be willing to stop their bad habits – if they were paid (Belairdirect described it as being offered a "monetary incentive"). That's right, Canadian drivers are willing to stop texting, talking, flossing and fornicating behind the wheel – if the price is right. Our renowned collectivist spirit is alive and well! So next time you see someone chatting away while driving or absentmindedly checking his phone while the advance green you have been waiting for changes to red, don't get mad. Just give a friendly wave to a fellow 95-per-center. Don't let his actions on the road deceive you – on the inside, he's a really good driver.