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Driving personality reflects driving style

Friday - 5/18/2012, 7:15am  ET

car.jpg
The 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 might be seen as a car with a powerful personality and may be driven by drivers who fall into the ''Auto-Bahn'' personality category. (AP)

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A driver's car personality determines not only the type of car he'll buy but generally how he drives. The five "car-ma" personality categories were decided in a new study examining Americans' driving habits.

Allstate Insurance conducted the survey of Americans' opinions about driving-related issues, and during the process surveyors realized the habits also revealed drivers' common driving personalities.

Each of the five categories, reported by Road and Travel Magazine, represents between 15 percent to 23 percent of drivers. These groups show strong opinion differences toward driving between men and women, car lovers and those indifferent about their vehicles.

"Car-ma" driving personalities:

  • Auto-Bahners: These drivers, representing 15 percent of those on the road, like speed. They say their average cruising speed on the highway is 71 miles per hour. More than any other group, eight in ten "auto-bahners" admit they have driven more than 20 miles over the speed limit at least once. Most also have been pulled over for speeding. Also, in the past five years, this group admits to having three or more drinks before getting behind the wheel. "Auto-bahners" are more likely to be male.

  • Auto-Nomous: These drivers, representing 21 percent, describe themselves as good drivers, commonly listing the personal characteristics powerful and rugged. They consider their cars comfortable places to be. They value their cars and do not consider them economical. "Auto-Nomous" drivers mostly drive pickup trucks or SUVs. This group is mostly likely to complain about fuel prices. Two-thirds of them are men.

  • Auto-Pragmatics: Representing 15 percent of drivers, this group describes itself as confident, cautious, economical and environmentally friendly. They view their cars as safe, convenient, economical and practical. This group identifies with a cautious driving style, stressing that driving safely is more important than how long the trip takes. Most "Auto-Pragmatics" are fussy about how they treat their cars. A majority of this group, 58 percent, is not employed. Most are retired women.

  • Auto-Pilots: People in this group describe themselves as reliable and represent 15 percent of drivers. They tend to be less comfortable behind the wheel. Only 29 percent say they're confident drivers. And 24 percent of this group tend to avoid driving whenever they can. The car is not important to this group. Members of this group is the least likely to say their cars are a reflection of who they are. Most "Auto-Pilots" are likely to drive a minivan.

There's more to it though. Many drivers choose their vehicles based on how they relate to those vehicles. People tend to see human facial features in the front-end of automobiles and ascribe certain personality traits to certain models of cars, according to a Florida State University study.

"The most unique aspect of the study was that we were able to quantitatively link the perception of cars to aspects of their physical structure in a way that allows us to generate a car that would project, say, aggression, anger or masculinity or the opposite traits," says Dennis Slice, an associate professor in Florida State's Department of Scientific Computing.

Each participant in the experiment also was asked to rate each model in the study on 19 traits, including dominance, maturity, gender and friendliness, and if they liked the car.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)