Does your personality make you a dangerous driver?

According to new research conducted by the EU Coaching Project, HERMES, your personality plays a significant role in determining the likelihood of your being involved in a crash while driving.

“Who you are is how you drive,” says John Jacobsen of Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy when we asked him about this new development in driver education. “Personality and lifestyle have such a big effect on safety because of how you perceive things. Your perception heavily influences how you drive.”

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Some drivers are comparable to a defenseman in the game of hockey, Jacobsen explains. The defenseman is expected first and foremost to defend his goalie, but depending on his nature, perception of the game, and level of confidence, he may be inclined to push the play or become more offensively-minded at any given moment. The same is true of drivers.

“New teen-age drivers are often surprised by their personality profile after their personal risk assessment is done,” Jacobsen says. “Students may score high in overconfidence without ever sensing it. Or they may see driving as a source of excitement without identifying themselves as thrill-seeking.”

Psychologists at the University of Cranfield in the UK designed the self-assessment test used by Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and tailored the test to Vancouver-area drivers. It is the first of its kind to be used anywhere in Canada.

The aim of the test is to raise awareness and spark conversation between the student, parent, and driving coaches.

Of course, even experienced drivers fall into the personality trap. How many of us have over-estimated our skills or conveniently altered our perception of the circumstances in bad weather or on a new, challenging road? In those moments, says Jacobsen, we’re closer to an avoidable crash than we think.

“Risk tolerance is also a significant personality factor,” says Jacobsen. “Wing-suit flyers who jump off the face of a mountain have a higher risk tolerance, whereas personally, I’d be cowering on the mountainside, figuring out how to get down safely. That same tolerance for high risk allows some drivers to drive aggressively in dangerous situations.”

At the end of each course, students participating in classroom sessions are asked to provide their comments. “Students often tell us that they learned a lot about driving but they learned a lot about themselves, too” said Jacobsen. “That tells me our message is getting through.”

To learn more about the personal risk assessment test at Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy call 604-460-5004 visit their website or send them an email. You can also connect with Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy via Twitter and Facebook.

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