Friday, February 13, 2009

IQ and traffic tickets

Based on the answers of 2,009 respondents (GSS data) the graph shows that the chance of ever getting a traffic ticket goes up with IQ (WORDSUM). This sample includes all races, but the pattern for whites alone is the same.

What's going on here? I suppose that folks with really low IQs are less likely drive, but the pattern holds for the right side of the bell curve. Do smarter people have longer commutes? Do they get bored more easily and fail to pay attention? Myself, I have to listen to audio books when I'm on the road, but I'll admit it's distracting.

(I checked and found that age does not explain the pattern.)


  1. Anonymous8:15 AM

    Perhaps a negative correlation between IQ and eyesight?

  2. Police don't like to get shot. They stop richer people.

  3. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Nearsightedness, sure. Reluctance of police, maybe.
    or...tighter traffic rules in nicer neigborhoods? One example: on many Long Island towns, you can't leave your car parked on the street overnight; it has to be in a garage or driveway between 1:00 and 5:00 am.
    Also, smarter people means more education, meaning more likely to have demanding jobs, so they multitask while driving, breaking rules in the process.

  4. Anonymous11:48 AM

    low iq > urban > bus > no ticket?

  5. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Smart people are tired of morons blocking the traffic flow, so they speed past them and receive a ticket.

    I don't recommend anyone to be distracted while driving, but speed limits is essentially a con job invented by the Nanny State to pull in economic resources for the police.

  6. Anonymous3:34 AM


    higher IQ = better recall of such things

  7. Anonymous7:59 AM

    A 120 IQ lawyer makes enough money that he doesn't care about an $85 dollar speeding ticket, whereas the 90 IQ janitor takes a meaningful hit to his income.

  8. Isn't speeding a plurality, or maybe a majority of all moving violations?

    It's very hard to speed in dense urban areas, and almost impossible to get caught in sleepy rural ones. But on the broad avenues of suburbia with 25-35 mph speed limits patrolled heavily by bored cops...

    Also, a cognizant driver knows the speed limit is not the same as the maximum safe speed.

  9. What Realist said. You would think that smarter people would be more focused and, therefore, less likely to make mistakes, but I suspect that what is actually happening is people with better focus have a tendency to drive faster and take slightly more risk because they know that their faster processing can handle it. Meanwhile, dumber, slower people, have to drive extra slow and be extra careful because they can't make quick decisions like a smarter person can. Why do you think old, senile people drive as slow as they do? To someone with an IQ of 132 or higher, I'd bet that 50% of the drivers on the road seem to them what grandma drivers seem to the average person.

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