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Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the born-to-run-off-the-road dept.

Idle 449

Serenissima writes "Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by UC Irvine neuroscientists. People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it — and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant. 'These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away,' said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex."

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449 comments

My daughter is a lousy driver (5, Funny)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912745)

She gets it from her mother.

Re:My daughter is a lousy driver (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913395)

She gets it from her mother.

But I bet you taught her to drive.

Re:My daughter is a lousy driver (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913655)

She gets it from her mother.

But I bet you taught her to drive.

You can't teach stupid.

Chromosomes? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29912755)

"People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test" You mean the double-X chromosome?

Re:Chromosomes? (4, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912891)

""People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test" You mean the double-X chromosome?"

Yep, and it is exacerbated by the adjacent gene that makes them yammer incessantly on a cell phone while driving the kids around in a huge SUV.

Re:Chromosomes? (1, Funny)

b96miata (620163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913583)

The fact that this isn't (Score: 5, Funny) is proof that not only are there women on /., they have mod points.

New Jersey Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29912761)

Yeah, but how do you explain all the bad drivers in New Jersey?

Re:New Jersey Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29912819)

inbreeding, duh!

Re:New Jersey Drivers (4, Informative)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913033)

Hmm? According to 2005 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), New Jersey is actually one of the safest states to drive in [businessweek.com]. New Jersey is number 10 on this list, behind Utah, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky,Idaho, Nebraska,West Virginia, Indiana, and Maine.

Also interesting, but not directly related to New Jersey drivers, is an Allstate study [allstatenewsroom.com] of driver safety by city.

Re:New Jersey Drivers (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913199)

What's amazing is that two of those states are Kentucky and Indiana, where on some of the backroads, it is not uncommon to see people driving down the middle of the road until they see another car coming towards them. For that to be one of the safest places in the country to drive almost certainly has more to do with population (or lack thereof) than good driving habits. :-)

And no, that's not just a joke. My aunt and uncle live in Indiana and used to live in Kentucky. People really do drive down the middle of the road. My great grandfather (also in Kentucky at the time) reportedly said, "It's smoother in the center" or something to that effect....

Re:New Jersey Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913391)

This is common practice on gravel roads EVERYWHERE. It is smoother in the middle.

Re:New Jersey Drivers (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913569)

I drive in the middle lanes of 3+ lane highways for the same reason I would drive in the middle of an empty 2-lane road. You have far more road surface to either side you. This, in theory, provides you with more avenues of escape.

Re:New Jersey Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913759)

There are multiple reasons to do this.

Heavy rain pools at the edge of the road first. You can avoid most large puddles (which can cause a loss of control) this way. I was actually taught to do this by an instructor.

Also, it can be difficult to see pedestrians at night, so driving in the middle requires less of a reaction should you encounter one (remember there are often no shoulders on these back roads for them to safely walk on). It's much easier to see an approaching car's headlights and move over accordingly than it is to see a person walking down the road.

It does tend to be a little smoother as well. Not to mention the roads typically slope away from the center, so you'll find it easier to drive if you move towards the center.

Re:New Jersey Drivers (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913981)

Does it give any extra reaction time or space for avoiding animals trying to dart across the road? I'm not sure it would matter all that much, but sometimes a fraction of a second can make a difference.

Re:New Jersey Drivers (1)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913121)

Yeah, but how do you explain all the bad drivers in New Jersey?

Easy... New York City and Philadelphia.

Re: Bad Driving (4, Funny)

domulys (1431537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912773)

Is the "particular gene" a second X chromosome?

I kid, I kid!

Re: Bad Driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913359)

Possibly, but personally I think it must the same gene that makes people want Toyota Corollas.

Re: Bad Driving (2, Insightful)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913927)

I kid, I kid!

Who are you hiding from? It's not like any women are going to be reading your post.

This is old news (-1, Redundant)

Myria (562655) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912787)

This was long ago identified to have a genetic basis, known as "a second X chromosome".

First... define worse... (5, Interesting)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912789)

Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

So, perhaps this gene is more of a "disrespect for authority" gene?

Re:First... define worse... (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912917)

This isn't about interacting with traffic and obeying laws, it's about maintaining control of the vehicle.

The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.

Re:First... define worse... (4, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913059)

They are testing the memory of the track. Take one of the failures out and put him in a real car with genuine feedback, real handling, g-forces, etc... then see how he performs. Or simply change the track every time its driven.

A good driver by their standards will know the turn is coming and compensate before they see it.

A good driver by my standards will know how to control their vehicle when presented with an unexpected turn or a kid on a bike shooting out between parked cars.

Essentially they created a test to see the effect of this gene on practiced behaviors... but it didn't test driving at all. Few accidents are the result of a driver forgetting how to drive, they are the result of a driver not knowing how to really drive in the first place (ie how to respond to the unexpected, or letting themselves be distracted and/or complacent).

They already knew this gene effected memory, all this test did is test memory by having them repeat the same course over and over again. Change the course regularly and the results may change, those with great memories may not be able to adapt to changes/suprises.

Re:First... define worse... (2, Interesting)

chebucto (992517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913385)

I've always thought defensive driving (the ability to anticipate potentially dangerous situations and react in such a way as to mitigate or eliminate the danger) was the hallmark of good driving. The ability to react to surprise is also a trait of good drivers, I grant, but, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Re:First... define worse... (4, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913419)

Sure... but memorizing your route home from work does nothing to make you a good driver.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913539)

Absolutely. Driving simulators test real driving about as well as Call of Duty tests real marksmanship. It seem that a number of posters don't like your earlier comment about "bad" drivers often being better than "good" ones, but I think there's something to it. Many of the "good" drivers I know (my wife, for one), don't have the skills to react to dangerous situations, or the instincts to recover from a bad situation properly. Some of these only develop through practice, which is usually through "bad" driving.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913781)

Uhh no.

A driving simulator uses a real wheel and real pedals with a full field of view of the road... Comparing that to Call of Duty is silly.

Re:First... define worse... (5, Interesting)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912921)

Wow, defining the problem! I wonder if the researchers thought of such a novel concept?

If only there was some sort of written description of the research, longer than a summary, that might shed light on if they independently came to the same conclusion that problem-definition might be worthwhile and, if so, what they defined as "better" and "worse"...

Re:First... define worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29912923)

If you read TFA, you would see that vehicle control is exactly what was tested, not the ability to follow rules or road signs.

Re:First... define worse... (2, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913157)

No... they tested memory. They even brought the group back for a second session to see who remembered the track and who didn't.

A great driver is one who responds appropriately to the unexpected and maintains focus on driving amidst distraction.

Think about it this way, play your favorite racing game on a new track... if you stay on the track the first time through it, it's not because your bad at the game its because the game makes it impossible to be successful unless you either a. drive crazy slow or b. have memorized the track. Now if you have memorized the track, there is nothing unexpected to respond to so you go much faster. I hate racing games for this very reason, I can never remember the track.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913281)

Well, to be fair to racing games, they are simulating racing, and for this it is realistic. Race car drivers spend countless hours studying every single inch of the track before they go out and race on it -- it really is the only way to drive at such a high rate of speed through any kind of track. As for your critique of this study -- you are spot-on. This tests absolutely nothing as far as real-world driving skills go. This is a test of memory as well as a test of the participants' video game skill (driving a simulator, even a good one, is much more like playing a video game than actually driving.)

Re:First... define worse... (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913057)

In the eyes of the law, and some others - getting a speeding ticket = being a bad driver. Though I challenge that since Nascar drivers are some of the best in the world - and drive the fastest too. Making a u-turn does not make you a bad driver. Making a u-turn into oncoming traffic and getting into a wreck makes you a bad driver. Insurance companies jsut want extra money.

Re:First... define worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913665)

Wait, are you really using people who only turn left as the basis for your counterargument? Have you seen how often they lose control?

Re:First... define worse... (2, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913107)

"However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control."

Do you realize that traffic rules were designed _specifically_ to minimize the impact of drivers' mistakes? And that if your 'best drivers' actually obeyed the laws, they'd have most probably avoided accidents. Even the ones caused by other drivers.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913591)

There are many exceptions, though. For example, on most freeways speed limits are set based on safety of the rightmost lane. That's the only place they really matter, and only because of exiting and entering traffic. By the fourth lane over, there's no real harm in going faster as long as you aren't going more than about 10-15 MPH faster than the lane to your right (because doing so would mean they might not see you in time to avoid cutting you off while passing another vehicle). Yet they still enforce the same speed limit in every lane. Not to mention that they slow the speed limit down absurdly early in some cases because of rush hour making a mess of things instead of being smart and having time-of-day speed limits for those stretches.

There's no reason in the world for 237 in Sunnyvale to be marked 55 outside of rush hour except as a speed trap. Well, maybe for a hundred feet in the westbound direction where 101 northbound enters, but even then, only because they are too cheap to make that entrance actually safe. There's similarly no reason for highway 17 in Scotts Valley to be marked 65 instead of 70 like it would be in any other state in the U.S. There's no reason for El Camino to go from 40 to 35, back to 40, then back to 35 again as you cross jurisdictional boundaries (or not). And so on.

No, some traffic rules are designed to minimize the impact of drivers' mistakes. Others are pretty clearly designed to raise revenue, to force traffic to go slower because neighbors complain about the noise, to make it easier on the people planning the traffic lights, because the city is too cheap to put in a traffic light where one is needed, etc. Like not allowing a left turn on green in most of California merely because there are two turn lanes even if the number of cars coming from the other direction measures in the single digits per day, or not allowing a right turn on red when there's clearly no visual barrier preventing you from seeing vehicles early enough to be safe, or putting "right turn only" signs at nearly every exit to a parking lot, forcing you to go three blocks out of your way every time you try to go from Lowe's to Fry's, putting "emergency vehicle only" left turns into the parking lot instead of putting in a traffic light like they should have, etc.

Re:First... define worse... (1, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913621)

Traffic rules are designed to balance speed and safety for the majority of drivers... if they were designed "to minimize the impact of drivers' mistakes" you wouldn't be driving.

I can show you many cases, where a person is not capable of driving safely even within the confines of the law. While I can show you an equal number of cases where the laws actually restrict a driver from achieving their optimal balance between speed and safety.

I could also argue that some drivers become more complacent when they fail to drive in their optimal speed/risk range, which might actually make them less safe... but that is purely speculative.

Avoiding accidents is far more about being defensive, aware, practiced, and very comfortable with the capabilities of your vehicle. The first thing I do every winter is take my wife and I out to an icy parking lot to practice stopping, swerving, and spin out recovery because I know that these skills are FAR more valuable than obeying traffic laws.

Finally, your argument that accidents would be avoided if those drivers had obeyed the traffic laws is moot. I wasn't suggesting that they were disobeying when the accidents occurred... I just didn't want to say that they NEVER got into an accident as that would have been a lie. Its just as likely that the accident would have been much worse if they had been conforming.

Re:First... define worse... (5, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913143)

Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit, and have no respect for when a U-Turn is allowed or appropriate, than you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)

Re:First... define worse... (4, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913237)

I hate to respond to this kind of stuff but I will.

To make an analogy, imagine that traffic laws are like government mandated school curriculum, they are designed to be of the most benefit to the majority, they are by no means designed to define driving ability.

There are people who shouldn't drive at all, and there are those who are capable of driving in much more extreme situations.

Well I agree that disregarding traffic laws is not a 'good' thing, a persons ability to conform to them will never dictate to me their ability to drive.

Re:First... define worse... (0, Troll)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913397)

Traffic laws are there for a reason: to save lives. Break them regularly and you are a bad driver. Period. Full stop. End of line.

Yes, you may be maintaining control of your vehicle. That would be great if you were the only moving object on the road.

Re:First... define worse... (0, Flamebait)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913593)

Your one of those people who shakes their fist angrily at every driver who passes them because you're going 54 in a 55 mph zone and the flow of traffic is 62, aren't you?

predictable behavior in cooperative hazards (5, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913571)

roads aren't a career. They aren't a place where some should excel at the expense of others. Since you are sharing the road with others, if your behavior isn't predictable then it is bad behavior. Say for example a champion race-car driver decided that, to prove how great a driver he was, he would drive on the wrong side of a freeway. Would that not be "bad driving?" I don't care how good your skill at steering and breaking might be, driving is a social contract to act within an established set of norms. A surgeon can have extreme skill at controlling how deeply they cut, and otherwise have perfect hand-eye coordination, but if that perfection is applied to cutting out part of your liver when you're supposed to be having a brain tumor removed, then completely independent of any amount of hand-eye coordination and grace - that person is a bad surgeon.

Same as a driver. If you aren't driving in a way that is predictable, and aren't driving the way you should be, then you are a bad driver. I don't care if you can do a controlled 360 on the road in front of your house - if you actually do it, then you are a bad driver. period.

Re:First... define worse... (3, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913587)

To make an analogy, imagine that traffic laws are like government mandated school curriculum, they are designed to be of the most benefit to the majority, they are by no means designed to define driving ability.

Bad analogy.

Traffic laws are like the code of conduct within a classroom. They prohibit someone from sitting in the back of the classroom and screaming at the top of their lungs while pelting the other students with rotten vegetables. The screaming/pelting kid may very well learn great like that, but they're a terrible distraction to everyone else and degrade the learning experience for the rest of the classroom.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913313)

Oh... and actually I wasn't talking about myself... though I have my fair share of traffic violations. I don't think any person can adequately judge their own driving.

I know someone is a good driver when I let go of the "oh shit" handle and stop pushing the imaginary break. I know they are a great driver when I can relax enough to sleep or read while they are driving.

Re:First... define worse... (2, Insightful)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913361)

Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit, and have no respect for when a U-Turn is allowed or appropriate, than you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)

No, you're confounding skills with ethics here. A hacker can both be skilled and be a blackhat; by the same token, a driver can be skilled and be an asshat. (Of course there is not necessarily always a positive correlation - cf. script-kiddies)

Re:First... define worse... (1, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913607)

Yes, his post was kind of asshatty. But here's another way to think about it. There are two modes of driving. In one mode, you are alert, aware of your surroundings, you know what lane changes and turns you can make without causing an accident. In the other mode, your brain is on autopilot and you should follow the rules to a T. People who haven't had enough experience driving don't really fit into these categories yet.

The laws are there to stop people from driving recklessly on autopilot, and indeed, that is when most accidents and tickets of experienced drivers happen. People who are distracted with daydreaming, eating, talking on the phone, passengers, etc should be in mode 2 and following the rules.

If you're in mode 1 and following all of the traffic laws, then you're probably bored out of your head. That's just how humans work. As long as driving is *the activity*, people are going to get bored, impatient, and ultimately break laws to make things quicker and more interesting. As long as the driver is being responsible, then it's generally okay, and I can prove that by the fact there aren't more accidents and traffic cops.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913659)

If you cannot maintain your speed at the posted limit [...] you are not maintaining "superior control" of your vehicle. You're just trying to justify your asshattery. (Yes, we all got that you're talking about youself.)

The posted limit is just a money-making threshold, it has nothing to do with control of the vehicle.

Re:First... define worse... (4, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913173)

So, perhaps this gene is more of a "delusion of competence [sfgate.com]" gene?

FTFY

Re:First... define worse... (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913353)

You could make a grid for this. For purposes of driving, I'll assume clumsy and incompetent are interchangeable.

Clumsy and they know it | Clumsy and they don't know it
Competent and they know it | Competent and they don't know it

Re:First... define worse... (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913349)

That sound more like making excuses for your bad driving. Part of you're driving ability isn't just your own control of the car. But how to interact with other drivers. Speeding doing illegal turns etc... Puts the other driver in a state that they don't know what your are doing. So they don't know thus more chance you will get in an accident. For example tailgaters, when you are tailgating someone you don't know what they are going to do. Will they shift lanes without looking hitting the other car (as they appear that they are going to get rear-ended) Will they hit the brakes who knows...
Saying I haven't gotten in an accident yet is not proof of your driving skills. It is just that other people have been good enough to keep distance away from you.

Re:First... define worse... (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913357)

Make an illegal turn on a blind corner and you might find yourself in a lot more accidents caused by 'another driver's lack of control'.

I'm not disagreeing with your notion that there are better drivers than others. And that these drivers are safer at high speeds than low speeds but something like making a uturn where it is illegal is annoying because as a conscientious driver I like to maximize my energy checking spots where people should be coming from not some cowboy who just made an illegal u-turn when I was looking the other way.

Re:First... define worse... (5, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913439)

A good driver avoids most accidents even if they are caused by another driver's lack of control. I can't tell you how many times I've anticipated a dumbass move by some driver, pedestrian, or cyclist and preempted a collision.

You talk about "superior control" over the vehicle as if that's the hard part. That hard part is all the other people on the road. A good driver doesn't collide with things, period.

They might still cause accidents. (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913497)

They might not get into accidents but their driving might cause other drivers to get into them by trying to avoid these idiots. On a related issue, a friend was always getting hit from behind. When someone was tailgating him, he would hit the brakes, HARD! After several tail end accidents, his insurance company came down on him for causing the accident even though legally he wasn't liable. Needless to say, he stopped that nonsense.

Re:First... define worse... (4, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913535)

Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

So, perhaps this gene is more of a "disrespect for authority" gene?

Well, I'm not certain that this study is actually testing driving ability... Seems more to be about their memory than their ability to drive...

But, regardless of how well you handle a vehicle, if you can't follow the speed limits and whatnot - you are a bad driver.

The speed limits, turn restrictions, signage, whatever is all there for a reason. It's to create a safe and predictable driving environment for everyone. Generally speaking, you aren't the only person on the road. A speed limit of 30 mph isn't there to make it take longer for you to get to work - it's there to ensure that everyone is traveling at roughly 30 mph. Which makes it possible, for example, to enter and exit the flow of traffic from parking lots relatively easily.

Sure, you may be able to handle your vehicle well... But if you're speeding up the road at 60 mph, in a 30 mph zone, somebody else may very well try to pull out in front of you and cause an accident.

Surprises cause accidents. Traffic laws and signage are there to reduce surprises. If you cannot follow the laws and signage, you are creating surprises. You may be able to deal with the surprises, or you may not - but that isn't the big problem. The big problem is how all the other drivers are going to deal with your surprises.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913807)

That was the BEST argument against what I said yet. The laws create predictability and reduce surprises, and I agree 100%.

I certainly wasn't suggesting that anarchy on the roads was a good thing. But I have yet to meet a driver who didn't disobey a traffic law occasionally. And my point was not to suggest that breaking laws makes for a good driver, I was simply suggesting that using a persons morals, ethics, and conformity to the laws is no way to judge their ability to drive safely.

The way I see it, I would much rather have my definition of a "good" driver driving me around at 10mph over the speed limit than some first time driver that can obey the laws. Sure the ideal would be my "good" driver obeying the laws.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913707)

Some of the best drivers I know are the ones who can't obey speed limits, make illegal turns, and ultimately are deemed as "bad" drivers. However these same folks maintain superior control of their vehicles and never get into accidents unless they are caused by another driver's lack of control.

So, perhaps this gene is more of a "disrespect for authority" gene?

A big part of being a "good driver" is defensive driving - always assume the other driver is an idjit. People who "can't" obey speed limits, etc are - by definition - bad drivers.

Re:First... define worse... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913895)

Yeah I know someone like that too, he has over 30 points on his license and had it revoked recently.

Just an FYI, it's called an accident for a reason, it happens to everyone including some of the best race car drivers in the world.

Another way for insurance companies to screw us (4, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912811)

Wouldn't surprise me if this does turn out to be true and not just a statistical anomaly then insurance companies will probably ask for a genetic test if they can get away with it and raise the premium if you have this genetic marker.

Re:Another way for insurance companies to screw us (1)

BarefootClown (267581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913147)

And how would that be "screwing" you? Seems to me that it would be considering a factor that has a correlation, if not an effect, upon an outcome. That's pretty much the basis of actuarial science.

Re:Another way for insurance companies to screw us (2, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913719)

And how would that be "screwing" you? Seems to me that it would be considering a factor that has a correlation, if not an effect, upon an outcome. That's pretty much the basis of actuarial science.

Watch Gattaca and get back with us. I would argue that a responsible society would provide extra help to such people, rather than punishing them for something that they have no control over.

I could see this as true (3, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912823)

I could see this as true, but not for the obvious reasons. Likely, people with this "particular gene" come from the same indirect family tree. This family can have learned behavior they pass on to their offspring of "not paying attention".

Re:I could see this as true (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913479)

That theory's really going to throw a wrench into their studies of brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Why is this surprising? (3, Insightful)

Stradivarius (7490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912835)

We know that other tasks involving acquired skills are influenced by natural ability. Intelligence is partly inherited, athletic ability is partly inherited, etc. It should come as no surprise that a task requiring some cognitive skill (paying attention to the right things) and physical skill (good steering, etc) is also influenced by genetics.

Starting off with a poor hand genetically just means you have to work harder. Some athletes have to work harder than others to get peak performance. Some students have to work harder than others to ace their exams. And some drivers need to work harder than others to drive well.

Re:Why is this surprising? (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913067)

Perhaps not surprising, but the news is not that they've discovered the fact that traits are inherited through genetic markers. Good ol' Chuck Darwin had that one figured a while back.

The news is that they've possibly identified one of the specific markers, and found a potential correlation between that and a specific subset of skills.

In addition to the "blue eyes" and "red hair" gene, we may have found the "hold my beer and watch this" gene.

Correlation (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913151)

We know that other tasks involving acquired skills are influenced by natural ability. Intelligence is partly inherited, athletic ability is partly inherited, etc. It should come as no surprise that a task requiring some cognitive skill (paying attention to the right things) and physical skill (good steering, etc) is also influenced by genetics.

Good thing there's no cultural correlation with genetic similarities, eh?

There are huge cultural differences in how people drive. In Italy, people seem to have a passing regard for things like lane markings, etc., when on the interstate. I loved watching drivers just meandering from one lane to another, or just driving stradding two lanes at once. Very different from how, say, people tend to drive in Germany. But if you were to do a genetic similarities analysis on these different populations, you'd probably get all sorts of false positives.

Honestly, genetic correlation tests like these are the modern day equivalent of phrenology.

Re:Why is this surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913943)

We know that other tasks involving acquired skills are influenced by natural ability. Intelligence is partly inherited, athletic ability is partly inherited, etc. It should come as no surprise that a task requiring some cognitive skill (paying attention to the right things) and physical skill (good steering, etc) is also influenced by genetics.

Starting off with a poor hand genetically just means you have to work harder. Some athletes have to work harder than others to get peak performance. Some students have to work harder than others to ace their exams. And some drivers need to work harder than others to drive well.

My mother and sister both of whom are accident-prone clumsy, physically un-coordinated with zero athletic ability are (no surprise) terrible drivers! In fact they do not have their licenses and are ages 41 and 70. Instead their lives are built around living in big cities so they don't have to deal with navigating a vehicle.

I think a lack of spatial sense with little attention to peripheral surroundings (ie: as are needed in sports practice) has a lot to do with it so you are spot-on with that!

OK, but (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912849)

Much like any activity, this "deficiency" can be curbed through training/practice.

Until we're able to manipulate genes in humans, as opposed to just lab rats, all this "XYZ has been linked to gene ABC" is pretty irrelevant.

Re:OK, but (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913021)

If scientists can demonstrate how this happens, there may be changes to the way training is done to better curb this deficiency.

For example, if the deficiency is in attentiveness, then people with that genetic marker may need some extra training in defensive driving and awareness. Training that, while useful for all drivers, is especially useful for the genetically predisposed group.

This is the first step - science has identified a possible problem. Now science should probably check to make sure it's not an anomaly (for example, people with this gene may happen to be in families where poor driving habits are routinely demonstrated to the kids by their parents, but the gene itself is correlation without causation - the gene is present but the observation of poor driving is the cause).

Then again, there really could be a "hey, hold my beer and watch this!" gene.

Re:OK, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913043)

If you RTFA, you'll notice that they were given several practice laps in which to practice. Those with the alternate form of the gene didn't learn as much from their practicing as those who have the regular version. Also, when the test was repeated 4 days later, those with the alternate form of the gene didn't improve their performance nearly as well as those with the normal form.
 
  In other words, no; it cannot be curbed through training/practice. At least it won't as long as people with the alternate form are trained the same was as those with the normal form. I will concede that *additional* (good luck getting that to fly in our PC world) training may remedy the difference.

Re:OK, but (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913123)

Until we're able to manipulate genes in humans, as opposed to just lab rats, all this "XYZ has been linked to gene ABC" is pretty irrelevant.

Not if you're an insurer.

If you mean ... (4, Funny)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912869)

If "genetic defect" means having a cell phone grown onto your ear at birth, then yes, I absolutely agree.

Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29912883)

We call it the "X" chromosome.

Re:Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913109)

We call it the "X" chromosome.

So... that's everyone, then. Based on my observations, I wouldn't argue with that.

Re:Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913415)

No, it's a recessive trait.

Simpson Gene (1)

lordlod (458156) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912919)

Who would have thought that the Simpson Gene would be so wide spread.

Re:Simpson Gene (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913095)

[CRASH]
Homer (muttering): "Stupid bad genetics.."
[CRASH]
Homer (muttering): "Stupid bad genetics.."
[CRASH]
Homer (muttering): "Stupid bad genetics.."
[CRASH]
Homer (muttering): "Stupid bad genetics.."

Marge: "Homie, why not try the brakes this time?"

Indications other than driving (2, Interesting)

citking (551907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912935)

Obviously driving a car, truck, golf cart, etc. requires fine and gross motor skills. So if this gene is present does it affect only driving skills or other areas where fine and gross motor skills come into play? I'd like to see, for instance, if the 30% or so of people with this gene can't play video games on modern systems because they forget what the buttons do or just can't get the jumps, dives, runs, etc. down. It might also be interesting to see if neurosurgeons, sculptors, or sports players have this gene or not.

Bad at Life? (1)

splinterBR (452234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29912997)

So, is it wrong to assume that this variant also makes a person inept at a variety of tasks? Working, shopping, cleaning, cooking--pretty much anything that presents more than a minuscule challenge to the brain?

Re:Bad at Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913941)

My thoughts exactly! Also - did the designers of the "driving test" check themselves for the gene? - Anonymous Coward

Sample size issue? (5, Insightful)

Serician (1296775) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913019)

Did any one catch the sample size?

"The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it."

Ummm... Sounds like interesting research, but until your sample size increases a bit, you don't got nothing.

Re:Sample size issue? (1)

Hybrid-brain (1478551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913289)

rather biased test if you think about it.....22 without the gene and 7 with it? that's a bad control from the get go. should have been halved so that the results wouldn't be so skewered as I believe they are. I'm not sure what this says about me....depends if I drive in Oregon or Washington.

Re:Sample size issue? (0, Troll)

Bald-Headed Geek (524573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913369)

Did any one catch the sample size? "The driving test was taken by 29 people - 22 without the gene variant and seven with it." Ummm... Sounds like interesting research, but until your sample size increases a bit, you don't got nothing.

Yeah and the seven were Asian.

Jersey Is Genetically Defficient! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913045)

Guess that means everyone in New Jersey is genetically deficient then because no one from that state would pass a drivers test!

No surprise here (3, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913119)

I live in an area with an astonishing number of epically bad drivers. I figured the epically bad drivers were (unfortunately) surviving long enough to have children, who themselves grew up to be epically bad drivers. A genetic component to epically bad driving doesn't surprise me in the least.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913567)

It's probably also worth considering who taught these people to drive. Yes, they inherited their genetics from their parents, but they most likely also learned to drive from their parents.

If their parents are bad drivers, they most likely passed along bad driving through their driving lessons.

Re:No surprise here (1)

TimedArt (937097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913751)

I live in an area with an astonishing number of epically bad drivers. I figured the epically bad drivers were (unfortunately) surviving long enough to have children, who themselves grew up to be epically bad drivers. A genetic component to epically bad driving doesn't surprise me in the least.

So what part of Florida do you live in?

Wait, Don't Tell Me - They're ALL From Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913145)

Frickin' Mormons on the I-15 goin' to Zion! (and not the park, either)

Insurance companies must be salivating (5, Insightful)

Jordan ez (1270898) | more than 4 years ago | (#29913197)

Man, and I thought the main cause for concern with the upcoming revolution in genetic testing was losing my health insurance.

Yup its genetic no doubt ... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29913205)

Yup its genetic no doubt ...
Two X cromossomes makes you a BAD driver, one X and Y makes you a good one !

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