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Why Are BMW Drivers So Aggressive?

Contrary to any clichés, we believe that there are many different types of people in this world. But if we had to quantify and separate people into car groups, we would say there are three types of people: Prius drivers, BMW drivers, and everyone else. The Toyota Prius drivers go slow in the fast lane, the BMW drivers go fast in every lane, and everyone else drives like a normal human being. But why the separation? And, more importantly, why are BMW drivers so aggressive?

Turn signals not included

We’re sure that you’ve experienced the BMW driver at least once in your life, if not every day of your life. They fly past us on the freeway, never use their turn signal, and accelerate hard from stops (if they even stop at all). But that type of driving behavior always begs the question, “Why?”

Is it because they’re driving “The Ultimate Driving Machine” and they need to put the car through its paces every chance they get? Or is it because their $60,000 piece of German machinery didn’t come with the “Turn Signal Package” and they’re trying desperately to dodge every car to keep a safe distance when changing lanes? We may never truly know the answers to these age-old questions, but what we do know is there have been studies done on these types of drivers.

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2002 BMW 3-Series
2002 BMW 3-Series | BMW

Studies have shown that it’s true

A group of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley actually conducted a study and discovered that drivers of high-end cars really do tend to drive erratically (to put it nicely). Paul K. Piff, a researcher at U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research, led a team in studying how drivers react to a pedestrian about to cross the street at a four-way stop. As you can guess, they’re supposed to come to a complete stop.

However, according to the report, out of the 274 cars that they observed they found that the higher-end cars were more likely to not come to a complete stop and would jump their turn in the intersection instead. Piff once told the New York Times, “You see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars… In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk. They always stopped for the pedestrian.” Piff also added, “BMW drivers were the worst.”

But why?

Other than the “crosswalk study” there is no real concrete answer as to why BMW drivers pull off the maneuvers that they do on a daily basis. Technically, it’s like asking someone why they would cut in line in front of other people or not tip their servers; it really comes down to personality.

So does that mean that all BMW drivers have a sense of entitlement and essentially look down on others? Perhaps, and that “crosswalk study” at least shows that there is some sense of privilege that luxury drivers have in the sense that they don’t even have the decency to stop completely for a crossing pedestrian.

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Cruise control on steering wheel
A BMW driver | Maya Anwar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We might never really know

But ultimately, it’s all speculation, considering that anyone behind the wheel of any car can drive like an inconsiderate jerk. It just so happens that most of them are piloting a 3 Series, or an X5, or even worse, an M3. So the next time you happen to be graced by the road-warrior presence of a BMW driver, just smile and nod as they tailgate you incessantly – only to speed by you doing 60 in a residential zone – and know that at least you’re doing your part in driving safe and cautious like a normal human being.