Are you more likely to give way to drivers in a particular type of car? Do you subconsciously judge a driver’s ability and skill based solely on their appearance? It seems you’re not alone, with a new survey by the AA revealing that motorists’ perceptions of other drivers have a great bearing in how they are treated on the road.

In a poll of over 17,500 drivers, it was found that ‘car envy’ was a major factor in whether a person would let another out of a junction or otherwise give way. One in five surveyed admitted that they would be less likely to give way to someone driving a large 4×4 or luxury car – though strangely it is more affluent drivers themselves who are likely to exhibit this behaviour.

It seems if you really want to make progress in busy traffic, then the car of choice is an old Citroen 2CV, an original VW Beetle or anything else which could be considered classic or a tad eccentric, with the same amount of drivers saying they were more likely to give way to them.

A driver’s appearance can also affect the behaviour of those around them. Five percent of drivers stated that they would consciously drive more slowly if the driver of the car behind was wearing a baseball cap, in an attempt to slow down a perceived ‘boy racer’. Men are twice as likely as women to drive in this way.

Nearly half of drivers (47 per cent) would leave extra space between themselves and the car in front if they realised it was being driven by an elderly person, suggesting that older drivers may benefit from making their advanced years more obvious to others.

Learner drivers come under particular fire from Britiain’s motorists, with 19 per cent of drivers – particularly those aged 18-24 – admitting to getting frustrated being stuck behind them.

Young drivers are also the most likely to tailgate other drivers and try and overtake or keep up with sports cars.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “There are lots of urban myths about car hierarchies that we wanted to test. The research shows that some drivers are more considerate to others depending on the type of car or type of driver. It seems that a trilby wearing driver in a classic car will be given more slack than one wearing a baseball cap in a sports car or 4×4.

“Although reassuring that almost half of drivers would not tailgate elderly drivers, it does beg the question as to why tailgate any driver? Driving too close to the car in front is the biggest danger on our motorways no matter what the age of the driver or indeed type of car.

“Our advice is to forget the age of driver or type of car and remember we are all humans who should be treated with respect rather than rage on the roads.”

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