blog entries

What's in a (car brand) name?

I’ve been privy to a study of which cars are most likely to kill you. When I was a motorcycle courier (back when there was still a courier industry) one of my colleagues, a post-graduate student, conducted a statistical analysis of road traffic accidents which he hoped would lead to a career in the insurance industry. He examined a wide range of factors, concluding that he was able to predict the likelihood of an accident based on knowing the driver’s age, sex, time of day driven and - unusually - brand and colour of vehicle. 

Couriers (both motor- and pedal-powered) are most likely to be killed by a Saab or maimed by a Volvo. But we should also watch out for red Fords, white vans with multiple aerials and MPVs of all hues driven between 1500 and 1600 when the kids get out of school. Pretty obvious really, but it’s nice to have our intuition validated by science.

Other findings are less obvious: BMW lies low in the danger rankings because its drivers generally like to drive; they pay more attention to their surroundings than Mercedes drivers who are least likely to notice you. Or anyone else on ‘their’ roads. Audi drivers will see you, but don’t care about you and as a consequence, round out the top three danger brands. Audi drivers receive a special mention in the report as exhibiting unusually high levels of aggression and ‘deliberate selfishness’ on the road.

VWs are generally benign unless we’re talking about the Beetle, which is dangerous, and Italian cars are more likely to be involved in low-level collisions (where the rider walks away) than American or British vehicles. 

Safest of all? Perhaps surprisingly, any car with L-plates. It seems learners are more sympathetic to cyclists than any other driver group. So, note to self: in traffic, seek the battered old Fiat 500 with a learner driver behind the wheel as protection from the big black nasty Audi that’ll try to grind you into the kerb.