Real Estate Makes Risky Drivers

Multitasking in the car puts real estate professionals at a higher risk of accidents, a study shows.

September 1, 2004

It's information the real estate industry would rather the insurance industry didn’t track: the best and worst drivers by occupation. That’s because a real estate practitioners are among the top five professionals most often involved in car accidents—surpassing dentists, teachers, and accountants, among others—according to a survey by an auto insurance research firm.

In an era where there are more cars in garages than licensed drivers in the home, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it was just a matter of time before risk management divisions of insurers started looking at car drivers in ways other than age and choice of vehicle.

San Francisco-based Quality Planning Corp.—which helps auto insurance companies minimize rating errors by running their books of policyholders through a battery of more than 150 tests to find patterns—took a look at driving habits of people in different occupations and found some jobs are more dangerous than others.

Study Reveals Some Surprises

After studying more than one million drivers, the company confirmed already-known trends but also found few surprises. It's a yawn to find out that students are the most likely to get involved in car accidents, but who would have thought that medical doctors, attorneys, architects, and real estate practitioners would round out the top five?

"The numbers blow big holes in the conventional wisdom about which professions are accident-prone or dangerous drivers,” says Daniel Finnegan, president and founder of Quality Planning. “Interestingly, it appears that it is educated professionals who are most likely to be involved in accidents."

Real estate practitioners earned a rating of 102, meaning that every 1,000 people working in real estate average a combined 102 accidents per year. Students were rated 152, while doctors, lawyers, and architects were rated 109, 106, and 105, respectively.

“Fortunately for those unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, individuals from two professions which are most helpful after such an incident—doctors and lawyers—are the most likely to be on the scene," Finnegan says.

The five least risky occupations for car accidents are homemakers, politicians, pilots, firemen, and farmers.

Cars Used Like Office

Quality Planning didn’t look at why certain professions are more accident prone, but a likely factor for real estate practitioners is their tendency to multitask while driving. They’re highly mobile professionals who use their cars as offices.

There’s also no measure of how many practitioners use their cell phones while driving. However, you can guess the percentage is pretty high after considering other telling data. For example, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reports that more than 93 percent of its one million members use cell phones, and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey in 2002 found that three out of four cell phone users talk on their phones while driving. Put the data together, and you’ve got a lot of real estate practitioners talking on their phones behind the wheel.

That alone may be the cause for many of the crashes, considering that "distracted driving," such as driving while talking on a cell phone, eating, or changing the radio station, is said to cause approximately one-third of car accidents, according to the National Safety Council.

Accident Prone, But Not Speed Demons

Real estate practitioners fared much better in Quality Planning’s other ranking—jobs that get the most speeding tickets.

Practitioners missed the top five by a long run, landing 24th on the list. The dishonor of first place went again to students, followed by enlisted military, manual laborers, politicians, and architects—the only real estate-related professionals to make the top five in both rankings.

(c) Copyright 2004 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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