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by Matt Brogan

While we all agree that most traffic accidents are caused by bad drivers, or speeding if you live in Victoria, new scientific research finds that, as bad as they are, it may not be their fault.

Neuroscientists at the University of California in Irvine, CA have discovered a gene variant that could be responsible for creating bad drivers.

According to the university’s findings, individuals with the gene variant performed 20 per cent worse than those without the gene variant on driving tests. About 30 per cent of Americans are believed to have the gene variation.

“These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away,” said Dr. Steven Cramer, UC’s Neurology Associate Professor.

Scientists have discovered that the gene variation blocks a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) during activity.

BDNF aids in memory and body response, which explains why individuals with the gene variation perform poorly at driving tasks.

No scientific research has been conducted on individuals involved in traffic accidents – as testing for the gene variation is not economically viable at this time – but Dr. Cramer indicates there could be a strong correlation.

“I’d be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes,” Dr. Cramer said. “I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant.”

The gene variant isn’t all bad as it has been discovered to keep individuals with diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and MS mentally sharper than those without.