By on August 14, 2013


You’ve always suspected that BMWs don’t respect pedestrian safety. Now there’s a survey that confirms what you already believed, making you feel very warm and fuzzy inside.

The NYT is reporting some details of a study of motorist behavior and courtesy to pedestrians. It confirms much of what you’d expect:

The study also found that male drivers were less likely to stop for pedestrians than were women, and that drivers of both sexes were more likely to stop for a female pedestrian than a male one.

“One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop,” said Mr. Piff, adding, “BMW drivers were the worst.”

Stupid fancy cars and their fancy-pantsy drivers, probably wearing ascots and whatnot as they drive their $219/month 320i Sportronic X Drives home from their soul-destroying cubicle jobs! But it turns out the narcissists behind the Roundel aren’t the only villains:

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where the hybrid gas-and-electric-powered Toyota Prius is considered a status symbol among the environmentally conscious, the researchers classified it as a premium model.

“In our higher-status vehicle category, Prius drivers had a higher tendency to commit infractions than most”

AHA! We all know why that is, right? It isn’t lack of courtesy or consideration. It a concern with regeneration. Stopping for pedestrians in a hurry necessitates wasteful use of the brakes, decreases fuel economy, and causes the planet to cry out as if a thousand BTUs were suddenly silenced or something like that. Every time you save a life near People’s Park, a polar bear winds up floating on a tiny little iceberg! And nobody wants that. I mean, you could wind up stuck on that iceberg with that polar bear. And then we all know what happens next.

Note: Listening to this video, even at home, will cost you your job. It has the F-word in it. At least twice. Don’t watch this video unless your mom says it’s okay and you are independently wealthy and have already heard the song and know what to expect. Other songs from this group, “Method of Destruction”, are offensive to people of all lifestyles and make light of the tragic incident in which Jim Gordon, the guy who wrote the piano coda to “Layla”, murdered his mother. Also there are jokes about Ethopia. I really cannot emphasize enough that you don’t want to watch this video. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

It’s also no surprise that men are more likely to both commit and receive motorist-on-pedestrian offenses, unless you really and truly believe that men and women are alike in all ways, in which case it will be a surprise. Last but not least, although the survey’s authors speak in reverent terms about the pedestrian courtesy displayed by “beaters”, I wouldn’t step out in front of anything labeled “Eurosport”, “Brougham”, or “Ghia” while within the city limits of Detroit, Michigan.

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38 Comments on “News Flash: Prius Pokes Pedestrians, Bimmers Bump Blithely, Ladies Catch A Break...”

  • avatar

    This begs the question, would a Prius driving gentleman, or lady, stop for a squirrel?

    Your either going to kill it with blunt force trauma, or suffocation from the extremely dangerous hydrogen fluioride alike; carbon dioxide (que Dark Shadows scary moment music)

    • 0 avatar

      When encountering a squirrel in my Prius, I typically slow down gently with light braking.

      I want to give the little bugger a chance, but erratic moves in traffic are likely to cause an accident. So, I split the difference.

      I do the same thing in my Sienna, and I did the same thing in my Ranger. It’s really more about my personal attitude toward rodents than it is about what car I’m driving.

      • 0 avatar

        Squirrels are just rats with good PR agents. They cause millions of dollars in damages annually to power lines and transformer stations. Run the little buggers over and bring some flowers on your drive home. But please stop endangering human lives for the sake of an overpolpulated rodent because you think their “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” looks are “cute”.

  • avatar

    The Prius problem is compounded by the fact that they are hard to hear at low speeds due to the electric drive, so it is much more likely that a pedestrian will step out in front of a Prius. This is annoying.

    I once bumped a pedestrian. It was just after a long snowstorm and the streets where covered with compacted snow and ice. A pedestrian that did not have the right of way stepped out onto the crosswalk about 100 feet in front of me. even though I was only doing 25 to 30mph, I simply could not stop, even at full ABS engagement. Ended up bumping the person at about 10 mph. I got out asked if they where ok, then pointedly reminded them that cars can’t magically stop on ice.

    • 0 avatar

      At 100 feet traveling at 30 MPH with a 1.25 second reaction time of, “pedestrian just stepped out in front of me, BRAKE NOW,” you will travel about 55 feet before hitting the brake. Even on dry pavement you were likely hosed.

    • 0 avatar

      As a cyclist, I’m hoping the Prii will cull the pedestrians who can’t be bothered to look both ways before crossing the street from the herd. Who raised these people?

    • 0 avatar

      They are now equpped with noisemakers that sound off when the car is rolling between 0-15 m ph with the gas motor off. This is in advance of a looming government requirement.

    • 0 avatar

      Is the Prius really so difficult to hear, or is this just all part of the marketing mystique?

      When out for a walk I usually the hear tire noise of oncoming traffic before I hear any engine noise. The last Prius I inspected did in fact have tires.

  • avatar

    The best advice I ever got about pedestrians having the right of way was from a stoner friend in high school, on lamenting the fact that his parents just bought him a brand new 1995 base model Cavalier, while most of his peers had stuff that was bigger and nicer. As he watched a pedestrian jaywalk right in front of him:

    “My sh*t may be small, but it’ll f*ck you right up.”

    He was a modern-day Walt Whitman, I tell you. I still quote it to this day.

    • 0 avatar

      My thought on the whole question is that right of way (legal or moral) loses to physics, every time.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup. When I was in the Navy, riding in a car with other sailors, the driver was cut off in traffic, and stomped on the brakes. The sailor-driver said, “he’s lucky I stopped. I was in the right.” the sailor in the front sat answered, “if you hadn’t stopped, you would have been dead right.”

  • avatar

    I get the impression that the Pious drivers are more willing to spend their ‘carmic’ capital gains from saving the environment by paying less heed to pedestrians. Double points if they’re walking to an SUV.

    BMW drivers, welll…. they do attract a certain target demographic. I’ll say that much.

  • avatar


    Truer words never spoken. People need to forget about the laws of mankind and pay attention to the laws of physics – if something bigger, heavier, and going faster than you runs into you, it will always mess you up.

    Can’t for the life of me ever figure out what is going on is someone’s mind to ever step in front of any motorized vehicle if it looks too close that it may do damage if they don’t see you. Even if I have the right of way and the light, I never cross unless I know for sure I can make it, as I assume the driver can’t see me or doesn’t see me.

    • 0 avatar

      Many residents of Cambridge, Mass thinks its their god-given, as well as constitutional right to be able to walk into the street whenever they want, without looking.

      • 0 avatar

        Ditto for Seattle.

        • 0 avatar

          Few people experience the full-on “la la la I don’t see nor hear nor contemplate your existence no matter how fast your vehicle is traveling nor how close you are to me as I decide to suddenly walk out in front of your vehicle, with scorned contempt for you, daring you to not stomp on your brakes in Ronin chase scene fashion” effect of commuting by motorized vehicle through a place such as downtown Ann Arbor.


          The closer to the campus proper of The University of Michigan, the more exciting the journey.

        • 0 avatar

          Portland, OR, on a Sunday morning. Don’t be in a hurry, pedestrians pretty much ignore traffic lights….or they’re too busy texting to notice them.

        • 0 avatar

          U district…

    • 0 avatar

      Here lies the body of John Jay,
      Who died defending his right of way.
      He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
      But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.

      Of course, that bit of prose applies to everyone, and it doesn’t provide any justification for drivers who disrespect a pedestrian’s right of way.

  • avatar

    It’s better to be alive than to be right.

  • avatar

    My local police department used to set up crosswalk stings (officer in plainclothes crossing in painted crosswalk) at notorious intersections until a few years ago. I thought they stopped due to cuts. I asked an officer about it and he said that they had too many close calls. He said that one officer did it in uniform and still had narrow escapes.

  • avatar

    Does the Prius have a higher percentage then other hybrids? Anytime I ride a bike on the street I hate having a Prius behind me because I can’t hear them coming.

  • avatar

    All of the broad brushed stereotyping of Prius cars and Prius drivers leaves me scratching my head.
    Was it that South Park episode years ago, or what? I have never encountered any Prius being driven in the manner I read about here and on other sites.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Newer cars with the wider A pillars, create a huge blind spot at the curb sides of a city street. This is the unintended consequence of roll over protection

  • avatar

    There are too many people on the planet and not enough oil and squirrels. So I can understand why eco-concious drivers are ready to sacrifice human life in order to save the planet and squirrels.

    On the other hand BMW drivers do not fit into this picture. But what what is common between BMW and Pruis drivers? Right – they all vote for Democrats and support abortion right. So my conclusion from this study is that Democrat voters aspire to reduce human population on the planet by any peaceful means (because they are pacifists after all).

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    Whole story is epic trolling.
    Sure! A compact car that sells for $5000 less than your average new vehicle… less than your average Camry… Heaven forbid a working joe’s F150… is now a “high class” car?
    Gotta hate them liberal elites, Sarah Palin told me so.

    Next Progressive Liberal you find leasing a BMW…. Let us know.

    • 0 avatar

      “Less than your average Camry”

      That is patently false. Most Camrys sold are of the LE/SE 4cyl variant these days. Both sell for around $20k, less for the LE I reckon. Priuses are still solidly in the $25k range for most trim levels (averaged out). A Hybrid Camry is more so in the $26-38k range

    • 0 avatar

      If you are talking about the regular Prius it isn’t a compact it is a mid-sized car.

      The Prius C is compact, Prius V is “station wagon” by category.

      The vast majority (something like 99%) of the Prius on the road are mid sized not compact.

  • avatar

    Prius drivers live in a world of their own… Much like drivers of other cars, especially those in BMW’s…

  • avatar

    Maybe this would be a good time to rip on pedestrians.
    I get annoyed if some one crosses my path and forces me to hit the brakes.
    I get really annoyed if I never see their eyes first. Why walk into traffic blithely expecting people to be not drunk, distracted, emotional, whatever? Seriously looks like a death wish to me.
    There are some pedestrians who are rude, arrogant, aggressive, and power trippers every bit as much as some drivers who are the same.
    Personally as a pedestrian I NEVER force a vehicle to slow down for me.
    1. I don’t trust drivers.
    2. I treat drivers like I want to be treated, that is not to have to slow down, brake or stop.
    3. I don’t have a death wish.
    Now I will set myself up for ridicule, come on boys step up to the plate and let me have it, here goes.
    4. I don’t want to force a vehicle to put wear and tear on its brakes and to burn more gas in the act of slowing or stopping, and then regaining speed.

  • avatar

    How does casual observation of 152 random drivers prove anything about BMW drivers? There couldn’t have been more than five or six bimmers in this “study”. And then there’s the NYT’s oh-so-predictable rich vs. poor angle. Ugh. If this is what passes for science/journalism then I weep for the future.

    PS: What’s the difference between a BMW and a porcupine? The porcupine has its pricks on the outside.

    • 0 avatar

      Pretty much every time I see a BMW in my rear view mirror, they cut me off before I can count to 30.

      The situation doesn’t seem to matter much, and it rarely gets them anything.

      Scientists always want more data to make better statistics, and asking for more data is almost always a reasonable thing. But sometimes it doesn’t take much to establish a correlation. And maybe I just share the road with the same 3 jerks going into the same office park at the same time every day. But, since my wife is the scientist, I get to use heuristics as soon as they’re useful to me – and sighting the BMW logo is so often followed by “watch out in 29… 28… 27… Dammit, what a jerk” that I just start to cover the brake as soon as I see one.

      Yeah, yeah, Camrys and Civics cut me off, too. But most of the Toyota/Honda/GM/Ford drivers drive like grownups, so the heuristic doesn’t work as well. To determine who’s going to cut me off from the normal-people brands, I have to look for a cellphone, or other signs of not giving a shit.

      • 0 avatar

        “Pretty much every time I see a BMW in my rear view mirror, they cut me off before I can count to 30”

        I have the same perception, and it might even be true. Problem is, this sort of statement reeks of selective attention span and recall… exactly the sort of bias which scientists are supposed to eliminate through sound statistical methodology. Not in this case however.

  • avatar

    I always break for pedestrians no matter what… Do you have any idea of the amount of paperwork involved if you hit one? Just don’t

  • avatar

    I am reminded of an experience I had with a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

    I was driving near a hospital one night where there is a crosswalk in the middle of the block. I was going to make a turn at the intersection a few hundred feet down the road, and so I was changing lanes. That detail is actually quite fortunate.

    As I crossed over the cross walk, which was right after I completed my lane change, I saw that there was a person in navy blue scrubs walking in the lane I had just vacated and was still walking toward the lane I was driving in. If I had not just changed lanes, I believe I would have hit that person.

    Obviously, I should have stopped and yielded. However, in my defense, there were no street lights, and because of the dark scrubs, I did not see the person until it was too late to stop.

    I think the hospital recognized the danger there, so they got a yellow diamond crosswalk sign with flashing light and a speed indicator device installed. So, now it’s very clear to drivers that there is a crosswalk there and how fast they are going, but I believe they missed an important detail: there still is no lighting on or around the crosswalk. Knowing there is a crosswalk does little good if drivers can’t see whether anyone is in the crosswalk. I can’t say whether hosptial employees still wear dark scrubs.

    I also found it odd how the pedestrian acted. I assume they could see me (my headlights were on), and presumably could tell that I wasn’t slowing down (because I couldn’t see them). However, they still stepped nearly into my path. A lesson I learned a while back is that while you may have right of way & the law on your side, but if something happens, you still lose. In the time since that incident, I’ve been much more observant in that area. I’ve noticed that a lot of people there don’t even cross the road at that crosswalk, which at first seems strange, but considering the number of people I see cross streets between stopped cars waiting at a light (with a crosswalk) less than 50 ft away, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

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