Are driving skills (good and bad) hereditary?

Are you passing on your driving skills to your children?

That’s a good thing if you are a good driver, but what if you are a menace behind the wheel?

Well, almost no-one is going to admit they are a bad driver, but maybe they should try a bit of self-reflection because apparently you may have passed your bad habits onto your kids.

A study by Scrap Car Comparison surveyed more than 1000 drivers, comparing their driving records to their parents’ driving records.  

First up, the study found there were plenty of people who had nothing to be proud of when it came to their driving records.

Among the younger generation of drivers surveyed, 33 per cent had been pulled over by the police in the past 10 years, and 27 per cent had received penalty points on their licence.

The results almost mirrored their parents’ results, with 36 per cent reporting they had been pulled over by the police and 36 receiving penalty points.

Bad habits

When that data was split up a bit, the results were even more stark.

The Scrap Car Comparison survey found after assessing drivers on three main ‘bad’ driving behaviours – being pulled over by the police, participating in speed awareness courses and receiving penalty points – that those with parents who exhibited ‘bad’ driving behaviour were significantly more likely to have driven badly themselves. 

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of those who fell into the ‘bad’ habits group were raised by parents who had also fallen foul of the law in the past 10 years, compared to just a quarter (26 per cent) of those raised by law-abiding drivers.

More than four in 10 (42 per cent) of those who had to take part in a speed awareness course had parents who were involved in ‘bad’ driving behaviour. And this number gets even higher, at more than half (51 per cent), when their parents also had to attend a speed awareness course in the past 10 years. Looking at those whose parents hadn’t broken any road rules, the numbers are significantly lower, with just 11 per cent having taken part in one of the courses.

When it comes to being pulled over by the police, the numbers are again significantly higher for children of parents with ‘bad’ driving habits, with 45 per cent of those who said they’d found themselves with flashing lights in their rear-view mirror part of this group, compared to the 14 per cent whose parents were squeaky clean. 

Nature or nurture

If parents were pulled over by the police, there was a significant correlation with the same happening to their children. A whopping three in five (60 per cent) of those who’d had to pull over for police said their parents had too.

So what is happening? Is it nature or nurture? 

Well, that’s probably too complicated for a car scrapping company to answer, but ask the kids and they believe it’s their parents.

According to the survey, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of drivers agreed with the statement “I have learnt negative driving habits from my parents”, with younger drivers (17-24) agreeing with this the most and 42 per cent thinking their parents were to blame for at least some of their poor habits.

Of the younger generation, 55 per cent said their speeding habits and 49 per cent said their road rage levels were learnt from their parents.

But it goes both ways, with good drivers also attributing learning their skills from their parents.

And not surprising, the majority – 55 per cent – believed they were better drivers than their parents.

That number goes up as the age surveyed goes down, with 59 per cent those aged 17-24 believing they were better drivers than their parents.

Do you think you are a good driver? Do you think your children are good drivers? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Are ‘smart’ cars producing dumb drivers?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


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