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Study: BMW drivers are the worst

By Claes Bell ·
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

Maybe  "Glengarry Glen Ross" writer David Mamet was onto something when he had Alec Baldwin's abusive and famously foul-mouthed character brag about his "$80,000 BMW."

Turns out there's substantial scientific evidence that BMW drivers are some of the most aggressive and selfish on the road.


A study conducted in 2012 by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto examined driver behavior at a four-way intersection and crosswalk on busy roads in California. Drivers were graded on criteria such as whether they cut in front of other drivers or stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk.

In general, luxury-car drivers were the least likely to be kind to other drivers and pedestrians, but BMW drivers earned a special mention from Berkeley researcher Paul K. Piff.

"One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop," Piff told Benjamin Preston of The New York Times. "BMW drivers were the worst."

Maybe that penchant for aggressive driving has something to do with why the BMW 3 Series and BMW 7 Series hold spots on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's list of the top 10 models that generate collision insurance losses for car insurance companies.

Those losses are based on the frequency and size of collision insurance claims, and it's important to note, collision insurance only pays out when the driver is at fault, according to the IIHS. According to data from IIHS website, the collision insurance losses on BMW 7 Series are more than twice the average for vehicles nationwide, and BMW 3 Series two-doors are more than three times.

So the next time you're walking or driving down the road, you might want to give any cars with blue and white roundels, and their drivers, a wide berth.

What do you think? Are BMW drivers really the worst? If so, why do you think that is?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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Texas Boy
August 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm

HAH! Not in Texas! Drive here for a day and you'll see anyone who thinks that a stock Ford Mustang or a black F150 somehow is the "Ferrari of Texas". They'll tailgate, swerve in and out of lanes, run red lights.

Me? I care about my life and car too much, you can get to where you're going 5 minutes faster. I'd rather not risk mine or my family's life.

August 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

Most of the comments here display a complete ignorance of statistical methods. Anecdotal evidence (i.e. "my experience") doesn't invalidate statistics. Nor does your opinion of California drivers invalidate empirical data about variations between different California drivers (if you think those differences don't appear elsewhere, feel free to go to Texas, for example, and conduct the same study). Anyone this bad at math and logic should probably just stay out of this thread....

August 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

There are so many flaws here I can't count them all. Let's start with this. BMW makes a very broad range of cars and have been putting them on the streets for many decades. The 65 year old performance driving instructor driving the original M5 that he purchased new is very different from the trophy wife that gets a new 7 series every other year. And she's different from the teenager college student in the decade old 3 series.

I am a BMW driver and I know hundreds more. Probably the only thing we all have in common is universally wanting the priuses out of the left lane.

I'm also the same driver when I'm in the taurus or the tacoma.

August 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

Well, I drive an Audi and I have been noticing for years that some/most luxury car drivers have entitlement issues, I didn't need a study to tell me that! And it's not just for pedestrians, they pull out in front of people, they block intersections, they run lights, just in general they seem to feel like they have their own rules to live by. I'm so freaked out by this general obnoxiousness that I try extra hard to be kind of the road, I feel like everyone expects me and my Audi to be jacka??es too..

August 26, 2013 at 6:45 am

They performed this study at a busy California intersection? When will Californians realize the whole world does not consist of California? Which in this case is already well known for horrific drivers and traffic conditions. Conduct this research in several locations across several countries before drawing such large generalizations. The only thing this study proves is that there are inconsiderate BMW drivers in an area filled with inconsiderate people.

T.J. Brown
August 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm

In the large Texas city in which I live, it's the 20-40 set in their humongous pickups that account for most of the road rage initiation, the DUIs, and sadly, most of the after-midnight traffic deaths (at least it seems so, on the TV news). It's either yield to them or be run over, in many cases.

West Coast Driver
August 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I drive for a living and in my experience, I don't really so much have an issue with Audi's, Acura's, Infiniti's, and VW's, but definitely BMW's tend to think they have a special license, Mercedes, Lexus from time to time, and definitely 35-50 something year olds in Fords, Chevys, and Dodge trucks who think their sh.. don't stink.

the Pedestrian issue, if I see them I'll definitely give them their right away but sometimes they just step right out, while I'm 200 feet away from the crosswalk, and then after I have to slam my breaks act like they have a right to be upset.... um... no if you're crossing and the car is 200 feet away, let them go.. then cross. (I walk in my free time by the way and that's what I do). I don't care how much right away I have, if I get hit by a car, a big one at that, I'm done... that simple.

Also for the record I drive a Toyota, where I live the carpool lane is only carpooling in the morning and in the evening, all other times it's the fast lane and if you want to do 50 you shouldn't be on the freeway period. You know who you are it doesn't save gas and it's not safer driving, it holds people up, ticks people off, and if you're not a senior citizen, you should be given a ticket as well as the idiots doing 90 weaving in and out of traffic.

my $0.02

J.L. Harris
August 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

That is a lot of bunk. I have been driving a BMW - X5 for 10 years and never had a problem. The problem is the driver no matter what type of car he/she is driving.


August 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Finally! I have been saying this for Also, close to where I live, people from a near-by county (I will not mention) are some of the worst drivers as well. Too funny.

fred c dobbs
August 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm

After ten years in sales of a BMW competitor, I find BMW the most arrogant, self centered, conceited, and the world kisses my a-- and you will too attitude. The world, laws, and social conventions mean nothing to them, and BMW is their brand.