What a man’s driving habits reveal about who he really is

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What ‘drives’ his personality?

Beyond having high regard for your life, paying attention to a guy’s driving skills and habits behind the wheel can tell you a lot about his most dominant personality traits.

A relatively new vein of scientific research called traffic psychology has, in recent years been able to decipher a good deal about someone’s personality based on how they drive and their behaviour around their cars. Chances are a guy’s driving habits will enlighten you to his long-term, “Mr. Right” potential.

Use these first few weeks and months as a barometer, from the first time he picks you up until you take your first day trip together. Pay close attention to what his driving habits reveal about who he really is, as you are being a private detective for your heart.

Before you get in the car with a new date, you’ll want to assess whether or not he has the initial positive character traits that would lead him to be a good, if not an excellent, driver in the first place.

He pays attention to detail.

He uses good judgment.

He appears to have self-control.

He is gracious and thoughtful.

He has good sportsmanship.

He has a sense of humour.

There are several factors that will influence a man’s ability to drive well: his emotional state, innate personality, and the weather conditions, to name a few.

As a rule of thumb, always take an assessment of your date’s emotional and physical states before trusting him to drive you anywhere. Anytime you allow someone else to be in control of the driving, think twice about their driving abilities and their physical and emotional states before becoming their passenger.

Studies prove that men have better driving habits when someone is in the car with them, so your new date will likely be driving his best with you anyway.

Still, deciphering if he’s reliable behind the wheel is important for your wellbeing, beyond the obvious reasons for avoiding riding with bad drivers. During the courting phase and throughout the lifetime of your potential relationship, men do a majority of the driving in heterosexual partnerships.

Men should beware that many women list being a “bad driver” as a deal-breaker in relationships. If some bad driving habits are revealed early in a dating journey, with or most likely without a conversation, that strike against him is likely to become the impetus for ending a courtship.

As a woman who may someday like to start a family, a man’s driving behaviours are critical not only for her but for her future children. And chances are, when the opportunity to drive your kids around arises, it will come with sub-optimal conditions — being tired and distracted by little ones — which will lower his reaction times.

On a grander level, a gentleman’s behaviours around his car also provide several clues to whether or not you can trust him to take good care of you and your potential family.

Of course, as a motorist, anyone can make mistakes from time to time. But when dating, it’s imperative to take notes on his behaviours behind the wheel because they aren’t bound to change much going forward in your relationship.

Plus, they can tell you a lot about who he really is!

Here are 11 driving habits to watch out for in the new guy you’re dating that reveal his most dominant positive and negative personality traits.

1. Not yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk

Looking for a partner who is courteous? Not stopping or yielding to pedestrians might indicate a guy thinks more highly of himself than he does others. He may think his time is more valuable than others or see himself as being above the law.

Here is an interesting finding from the University of California, Berkeley: Researchers noted that none — not one — of the cars in the “beater-car category” drove through the crosswalk, endangering the lives of the pedestrians during their studies. However, people who drove luxury or premium car drivers were not nearly as observant of the traffic laws.

If your guy does this, notice if he was daydreaming, distracted with all the fancy gadgets in his car, or potentially busy on his smartphone. As a potential suitor, analyze the whole picture and how habitually it happens.

2. Not giving the right of way

There is a higher likelihood that someone who drives a luxury vehicle will act as if they are more important. It’s a version of being classist, but on the road.

If you saw your new potential match exhibiting this behaviour, I would also pay close attention to how he treats the valet, waitstaff or porter. If he treats them poorly, you may have someone showing signs of narcissism.

The combination of someone who has an avoidant attachment style, in combination with having self-centered thinking, is always a sign to run the other direction.

3. Waving “thank you” when another car lets him merge or cut in

These are signs of a true gentleman. Being able to admit when he’s made a mistake is an incredibly important personality trait in a budding partner.

The “thank you” wave as someone yields for you is an indication of acknowledging another’s thoughtfulness and shows he doesn’t have a feeling of entitlement.

It’s just good etiquette and most likely spills over into how he deals with people off the road, too. Being gracious and kind are two of the most sought-after personal characteristics in any potential life-partner.

4. Pumping on and off the breaks (aka not maintaining a consistent speed)

As a passenger on a date, this is one of the most annoying things to suffer through and a sign he clearly hasn’t mastered driving yet.

There may be reasons he doesn’t feel like a confident driver. Maybe he was in a car wreck as a kid and has PTSD around driving. Or maybe he’s colourblind and that makes him doubt his abilities.

If you feel he is wonderful on a majority of other levels, it may be time to suggest you take the keys and do the driving for the two of you more often than not. You could also gently suggest he take some advanced driving skills classes.

It’s good to gauge if a trait or behaviour is modifiable and, if it’s not, to discover ways to work with the limitations.

5. Distracted driving

This is especially a concern for guys with ADHD. Research from the National Center of ADD confirms drivers with ADHD appear particularly at risk to distractions during periods of low stimulus or dull driving, such as long-distance highway driving. Distractions can be anything, including changing radio stations, eating, talking, and daydreaming.

If your potential love admits to having ADHD, suggest that you do a majority of the driving — especially at times when he’s experiencing higher symptoms, like during long car trips or late night highway driving.

6. Pulling over quickly for emergency vehicles and funeral processions

Not only is this the lawful thing to do, but it’s also courteous. Luckily, most guys do this automatically, but for if a guy doesn’t, it’s a giant “red flag” that he has narcissistic behaviours — thinking he’s better than others and that the laws don’t apply to him.

However, one thing even gentlemen may be unaware of is the necessity to pull over when an emergency vehicle passes on the other side of the street, but most state traffic laws require it.

7. Deliberately “blocking the box”

“Blocking the box” is when the traffic ahead is backed up but a guy goes through a yellow light anyway, so he ends up blocking the intersection Statistically speaking, the same team of researchers from Berkley (the ones who analyzed a person’s prevalence for blocking the pedestrian walkway based on the type of car they drove) found individuals who have “nicer” cars tend to do this more often than owners of less prestigious vehicles.

If a guy blocks the box, this could show he thinks more highly of his time than that of others. Done consistently, it indicates he is rude and uses poor judgment.

8. Stopping on a dime as his norm

Maybe he’s in a hurry, has poor depth perception, or slow perception-reaction time. Whatever the case, this is unpleasant driving behaviour.

If your new partner is giving you whiplash by stopping at the last minute, use some humour, communicate your concerns and see if he takes heed to modify his quick stops. Consistently stopping abruptly may also signify a lack of good time management skills.

9. Performing a “California roll” at a stop sign

Doing a rolling stop is simply a bad habit. Most frequently, a guy will roll through a stop sign driving in an area he drives regularly, which has made him become lazy.

It would be best to have a date who abides by the law when you are in his care, so this could be considered a strike against him. It’s a careless thing to do and might be a sign of absentmindedness. Note whether it’s his norm or just a random lapse in judgment.

10. Not signalling a turn or lane change

The only time this is legal is when there are no cars on the road. So 99 percent of the time, your date should be using his turn signal when changing lanes, as both a matter of safety and so as not to receive a moving violation.

If this is a persistent driving habit, it may mean he is a little sloppy, distracted emotionally, mentally preoccupied or potentially feels he’s above the law on this slight infraction. These are questionable qualities for your long-term mate.

Be vigil to see if other behaviours fall in alignment with these seemingly minor infractions, since forgetting to use a turn signal isn’t the best reason to kick him to the curb.

11. Use of aggressive language or gestures

Psychological scientists from the Ohio State University teamed up with researchers at the University of Luxembourg for three studies to see if narcissism predicted aggressive driving, which is the cause of more than half of all traffic accidents in the United States alone.

They were studying individuals with subclinical levels of narcissism. Those who ranked themselves as a 4 or 5 level (out of 5) for statements such as “I like to be the centre of attention,” or “I am an extraordinary person, were likely to show more narcissistic traits. There was a high correlation between narcissistic individuals and aggressive driving behaviour found in statements like, “I often swear when driving a car,” or “When driving my car, I easily get angry about other drivers.”

They also found participants who scored high on narcissism were more likely to tailgate, speed, drive off-road, cross the centre line into oncoming traffic, drive on the shoulder and honk their horn.

Swearing or giving the bird when on a date with you, should be considered a big yellow flag and, if really irreverent, a red flag. A man who does this is obviously not putting your need for feeling comfortable, safe and protected in his company at the top of his list of priorities at that moment.

Now, he may be culturally conditioned to being demonstrative, which is more common with particularly passionate ethnicities. This might be okay for some women who are able to know the burst of euphemisms is a temporary state of being. However, if you’re more likely to allow the heat of the moment to fester, you should seriously reconsider his ability to be your forever partner.

12. Phone use while driving

It’s best for everyone to stay off of smartphones while behind the wheel, but the sad truth is, many people don’t.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that, at any typical daylight moment, a shocking 542,000 passenger vehicles were being driven by people using handheld cell phones.

However, some people are more prone to using cell phones while driving than others.

In a study around the “Big Five” personality traits test model — which cites openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism as people’s five core personality traits — researchers found that people who are more conscientious and agreeable are more likely to want to reply quickly to texts or missed phone calls. This makes them more apt to being a distracted driver. Extroverts were found to use cell phones more than introverts.

While driving, it’s always better than a guy let his co-pilot navigate or use a phone’s features, not him. It’s the smart thing to do and also indicates his level of maturity. Plus, letting your new date know you are willing to help in this fashion is a good foundational move toward acting as a team.

If anything about a guy’s driving skills worries you, it’s OK to tell him your concerns.

There is a possibility that your date has no clue he is doing something illegal or annoying behind the wheel.

If he is the kind of guy who is otherwise a good potential match for you — someone you’d want to be in a long-term relationship with — by all means, have a conversation with him about your feelings and needs. You’ll know he cares if he learns how to be a good driver; he should want you to feel safe when he’s behind the wheel.

However, if he doesn’t have long-term potential and good personality traits simply stop moving forward in getting to know him. And definitely don’t get back in the car with him, either.

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