Luxury car drivers less likely to stop for pedestrians

DRIVERS of high-end vehicles are ruder than those who drive old bangers, according to a study.

A team of researchers at California University studied the behaviour of drivers at a major intersection and at pedestrian crossings and discovered that drivers who did not behave courteously or within the law were mainly people driving expensive cars.

One of the researchers, Paul Piff from California University's Institute of Personality and Social Research, told the New York Times they saw a "huge boost" in a driver's likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars.

The researchers noted the behaviour of 132 drivers at crossings and which drivers stopped for pedestrians about to walk across the road.

They also studied 274 cars at a four-way intersection over the period of a week to see which vehicles cut in front of others when it was not their turn.

Mr Piff told the paper the more expensive cars were like to jump their turn and less likely to stop for pedestrians.

"In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the [old bomb]-car category drove through the crosswalk. They always stopped for pedestrians."

However, "fancy cars were less likely to stop", Mr Piff said.

Mr Piff said BMW drivers were the worst offenders, but they weren't alone.

Even upmarket versions of the Toyota Prius, which was often driven as an environmental status symbol in California, were less courteous drivers, he said.

The research has been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The editor of New Zealand's Dog and Lemon Guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson, said he was not surprised by the findings.

"Carmakers sell luxury cars by telling wealthy buyers that wealthy buyers are superior human beings, that they're better than everyone else, that they have an entitlement to a superior lifestyle, even when this superior lifestyle hurts others," he said.

"It's very dangerous to drive through the world believing that you don't have to obey the same laws as everyone else.

"Luxury cars tend to be very safe, but it's likely to be the poorer people who get hurt."

Earlier this year the Auckland owner of a Lamborghini Gallardo apologised for parking in a mobility space after being publicly shamed on the internet.

Several luxury car dealers contacted refused to comment on the findings.