In 2013, a study done by the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley stated that “BMW drivers were the worst” when it came to following the traffic regulations. Although the research sample consisted of less than 500 motorists, the news did the round for a few days.
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Furthermore, a poll answered by 2,837 people in the U.K. concluded that the 35 to 40-year-olds driving a (blue) BMW were most prone to road rage. In fact, when website Car Throttle carried out a similar poll with around 7,500 respondents, 41 percent tagged BMW drivers as the most disliked ones.
Type ‘BMW drivers are the worst’ on Google and you’ll get more than 900,000 results. There are countless memes and jokes poking fun at the driving skills of the Bimmer owners. YouTube has videos of BMW drivers cutting lanes without using indicators, tailgating other drivers and the usual crash compilations.
BMW is known to produce arguably the best driver’s cars in the world. ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ and ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ are popular taglines of the German marque for a reason. Even former Top Gear host Richard Hammond couldn’t stop praising BMW in one of his columns in 2012 after he drove the F30 320d. “Their cars are not about cutting edge, brand new technology, breaking new ground, pushing things further,” he wrote. “Their cars are about doing what’s already known…and doing it extremely well.”
BMWs are fast, have excellent handling and offer great performance. As someone who drives a 3er, I can say that the latter asks to be driven hard. While Audi and Mercedes-Benz are great manufacturers in their own ways, a performance-enthusiast will likely prefer a BMW over the two, especially when it comes to choosing among the entry-level models. Furthermore, in 2011, when Market Research World published some facts about the BMW owners, one of them was that they prefer to ‘love a fast, punchy style of driving.’ BMW sold 2.1 million vehicles in 2014 so it doesn’t mean all the owners are going to be like that, but it does tell us a bit about the most of them. Now when you give people with a rough style of driving a Bimmer, yes there will be some who will be nuisance on the roads.
That said, majority of the BMW owners are very sensible drivers. They will push the car hard, but only when it’s the right time to do so. They have made a hefty investment and are not as careless as the society makes them out to be. In fact, as this article by TrueAccident.com shows, BMWs cause fewer fatalities than Audis, Toyotas, Renaults, Fiats and Fords. Obviously, you have to look at the disparity in the number of vehicles by other manufacturers but going by how the media typically portrays the BMW drivers, the stats are optimistic. Another website looked at over a million car insurance quotes to see which brand was involved in most accidents and BMW got piped by Jaguar, Lexus and even Volvo.
Of course, some newly rich men and spoiled teenagers drive their BMWs stupidly, but the truth is that every luxury automaker has those set of customers (who are actually just the minority). These days, Audi and Porsche owners are probably hated equally, while Mercedes gets away because of its image of catering to the older people. Talking about our attitude, yes, we do think our cars are the best but that’s because we love driving them and proud of what we own. Some people buy a BMW just to show-off but the same can be said for any exotic car brand.
Here’s what a BMW driver said to me when I asked him about these stereotypes: “People talk about how dangerously a BMW driver overtook them or how he didn’t use the indicator before changing lanes…but that depends on the person, not the car. Give him a Honda, and he will be up to the same antics. It’s just that driving a BMW will make his acts more noticeable…after all no one’s going to watch a YouTube video of a Toyota Corolla cutting lanes without giving the indicator.”
Driving a BMW doesn’t make you a bad driver. From my personal experience, I see a Maruti Suzuki Swift speeding more often than a 3 Series, but the latter will always garner more attention. The problem is with the attitude of the people, not the car. Finally, we wrap up the article with the take of another BMW driver and he tells us how we are always seen as the problem.
“If I’m on the highway and I’m driving in the overtaking lane within the speed limits and come up behind a much slower car…9 out of 10 times, he won’t let me pass…now, either I’ll have to overtake him from the wrong lane or tailgate him till he lets me through…whatever I do will make me the ‘typical idiot BMW driver’…if a faster car is behind mine, I always let it pass so why can’t others do the same when they see a BMW behind them….Frankly, BMW owners quickly get used to the stereotype and we don’t care about it because half of the people hating us will gladly exchange their cars for what we drive.”