Why Everyone Thinks they are a Better than Average Driver

If a person is asked to rate their driving skills using a 1 to 10 scale, a great majority of those answering will rate themselves as a 7, or well above the average. At the same time, the normal distribution of all drivers suggests that at least half are average or below the average when it comes to their driving abilities.

So, what is the reason why everyone thinks they are a better than average driver?


From a psychological perspective, many experiments and research project have also shown that people individually see themselves as above average drivers, but at the same time believe that others might not agree with this assessment. In fact, most individuals believe that other people would rate them as at least 10% worse driver. One of the main reasons behind this phenomenon is that there is no standard accepted definition that defines good driving skills. Because of this, people tend to create their own unique descriptions of the same notion. This is why a cautious and slow driver would have a very different idea of a good driving skillset than a person who usually drives aggressively. For some individuals, the ability to use their mobile device could be one of the reasons why they see themselves as a good driver, even though this very act is responsible for many car accidents.

This is why almost all of the people who assessed themselves as drivers in psychological research projects believe they are exceptional behind the steering wheel, but only when they use their own definition of what good driving is. The same occurrence is further enhanced by a phenomenon called illusory superiority, which represents a cognitive and rational bias where the individuals tend to overestimate their own abilities, and at the same time downplay the abilities of those around them. Illusory superiority is especially prominent in the domains of task performance effectiveness, personal traits and the level of intelligence, all of which are included in the assessment of driving skills.

Because of this, the lack of a universal and generally accepted definition of good driving, combined with the phenomenon of illusory superiority leads to the explanation why everyone thinks they are a better than average driver.

Want to become a better driver? Watch this video for some tips on how to be a better driver.