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Study Proves That Those Who Drive Fast Really Do Die Young

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Tea leaves, crystal balls, goat entrails: humankind has a huge arsenal of crazy tools for seeing into the future. But a new study from the data-crunchers at LexisNexis says that there's a much more accurate way to learn someone's fate: just relax and look deep into his driving record.

The nuts and bolts

The Motor Vehicle Record Mortality Study was conducted jointly by LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Company. Together, they pulled over 7.4 million motor vehicle records at random, sorting them into three piles: individuals with clean records, drivers with minor violations, and those with major violations. For the purposes of the study, major violations included "alcohol- or substance-related infractions, excessive speeding, and reckless or negligent driving". 

The two companies then took all that delicious, segmented data and cross-referenced it with the Social Security Death Master File. (Yes, there is such a thing.) They found that of the 7.4 million drivers included in the study, roughly 73,000 had died.

Then it was just a matter of building a few handy Venn diagrams to determine if there was any correlation between driving history and death. And sure enough, those with major violations on their records were most likely to have died. 

And then things got weird

But in the course of all that cross-checking, researchers noticed something strange: the people who had died hadn't necessarily died in vehicles. There seemed to be a linkage between major driving violations and folks' propensity to die, period.

In other words, just as some employers look at applicants' credit ratings to see if they'd be trustworthy workers, LexisNexis and RGA found that driving records are a strong predictor of longevity.

For you PowerPoint types, here are a few of the study's major bulletpoints:

  • Drivers with major infractions have mortality rates 70% higher than those without such infractions.
  • Drivers with six or more major infractions have a mortality rate that's 80% higher.
  • Women were less likely than men to have major infractions on their driving records, but those who did were at far greater risk of dying than their male counterparts. Such women have a mortality rate that is 100% higher than other drivers, but for men, the figure sat at 61%.
  • Even folks with minor violations face earlier deaths. The study found that drivers with between two and five infractions -- major or minor -- had a mortality rate 24% higher than their safer peers. For six or more infractions, the mortality difference jumped to 79%.
  • Having just one major violation on a driving record was linked to a mortality rate 51% higher than drivers without any infractions.

The moral of the story

Number-crunchers and risk-management types like those at LexisNexis and RGA aren't usually in the habit of building hypotheses to explain such statistics. They simply see the correlation and use it to set insurance rates. 

But it doesn't take much of a rocket scientist to understand that drivers with several major driving infractions may be more likely to make "iffy" lifestyle choices, like being heavy smokers or drinkers. Over time, those choices can lead to a greater chance of death.

Bottom line: auto insurance companies already look at motor vehicle records to set policy rates. As studies like this create more linkages between driving records and longevity, though, don't be surprised to find other agencies -- even employers -- peeking at your motor vehicle records.

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Comments (3)
  1. Talk about a low-down bad refrigerator
    You were just too cool for school
    Sock hop, soda pop, basketball and auto shop
    The only thing that got you off was breakin' all the rules
    James Dean, James Dean
    So hungry and so lean ...
    Post Reply
    Bad stuff?

  2. Well, I'm still here after 55 yrs. behind the wheel of at least 37 different cars or trucks. As a kid I was an idiot teen speeder, drag racer who survived either by luck or the grace of you know who. In the early years I had some terrific accidents but fortunately no one was ever hurt.... aside from pocketbooks. In the passing years, I got smarter at avoiding tickets using my powers of observation and Escort detectors. Later years, earning enabled attendance at driving schools, track days, etc. even though still an aggressive driver, my luck continues to hold with only 1 ticket in the last 12 years despite ownership of several fast cars, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc. Thus far, I'm living proof that all fast drivers don't die young.
    Post Reply
    Bad stuff?

  3. I drove way too fast until I got within one ticket of losing my license. After that I started to drive like a granny, and I haven't had a ticket in four years. Does that mean I'm going to live or die? =)
    Post Reply
    Bad stuff?


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