They Say: Could Bad Driving Be Hereditary?


atthewheel_cropDoes your teenager drive like a maniac?  Have they already been in a few accidents?  Well it might not be their fault, entirely.  It could actually be yours.  It has nothing to do with your abilities as a driving instructor or even how you yell “Watch out!” every three minutes when they’re driving.  It could be far more basic than that; it could be genetic.

According to a study published recently, there may be a particular gene that contributes to poor driving skills.  Test subjects who had the gene did 20 percent worse on a driving simulation than those who did not have the gene; similar results were observed in a follow-up test as well.  Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, and lead researcher on the study, says the people with the gene “make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away.”

Now, the study involved only 29 drivers, so more research certainly needs to be done to truly draw any definite conclusions, but if the findings are consistent in larger studies, the researchers estimate that nearly a third of all drivers could be affected.  Of course there are test subjects available for more research — the general population.  “I’d be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes,” Cramer said. “I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant.”

In the meantime, however, I suspect this news is best taken with a grain of salt and, perhaps, a healthy dose of humor.  Because you know that if your teen reads about this, the next time you get a 2am phone call to tell you they’ve totaled the car, they’re going to say “It’s not my fault — you’re the one who gave me the bad driving gene!”

Photo: Anita Patterson