Genetic Anomaly Makes People Poor Drivers, Swedish Researchers Say
A scourge that's long plagued traffic in European cities may now be coming to an end, judging by the findings in a research study financed by The National Board of Health and Welfare.
Though attempts at reaching Nollvisionen — the goal of not having a single traffic accident on Swedish roads — have been somewhat successful, people still meet tragic deaths in car crashes. Social planners have long been baffled by the problem, and the reason why Vision Zero hasn't been achieved has eluded traffic analysts for some time. Yet now a genetic anomaly has been discovered that may explain why even drivers who have passed Sweden's rigorous driving exams still end up crashing cars.
The culprit bio marker is something called the X chromosome. According to M.D. PÃ¤r RÃ¤kmacka, people carrying just one copy of the chromosome are at no risk of becoming a part of this scourge. Yet when an individual carries two copies of this X chromosome, an anomaly may develop that's for now been given the name the "Gynaikon Syndrome."
"We're hopeful that this finding may lead to us finally achieving the goal we've fought hard and long for," Dr. RÃ¤kmacka says — a society with not a single person dead from traffic accidents. When asked about how serious a risk factor this Gynaikon Syndrome is in traffic accidents, RÃ¤kmacka still cautions some moderation in applying these findings willfully. "Even though people suffering from this syndrome are at a highly elevated risk of crashing their cars, people should still not be at high risk in modern cars due to the advances in vehicle safety. As long as they've got their seat belts on, passengers in cars driven by people with the Gynaikon Syndrome should still make it home alive assuming they're not too cursed with bad luck."
One of Sweden's political parties — the Sweden Democrats (SD) — have taken these findings to heart, however. In a parliamentary bill filed by party leader Jimmie Ã…kesson and signed by 18 SD MP's, a call is made for legislation barring "people with one X chromosome too many" from operating automotive vehicles.
"I remember a time when people with this syndrome didn't drive cars at all, and back then it was a joy traveling our roads. Alas, that time is long since gone due to the emergence of drivers with this X chromosome anomaly. But with our bill, we hope that we can once again make the roads safe for family travel and pleasant to drive on. If the bill passes the vote in Riksdagen, we can have it in force by 1 January 2013."
He faces opposition from former Left Party chairwoman Gudrun Schyman, however, who's suffering from the Gynaikon Syndrome. "Barring people with two X chromosomes from driving cars would be outright discrimination, it's like we're in Saudi Arabia," Schyman says. "Though I don't believe their bill will pass, I've still launched a petition against it." At the time of writing, Schyman's petition stands at 233 signatures, which doesn't inspire much confidence. And critics point out that Schyman herself has a history of traffic accidents; she's driven her Trabant into ditches on two different occasions, and another time she suffered engine engine failure on one of Stockholm's most heavily trafficked roads, an incident that made national news.
"It's a given that politicians at one time or another end up exploiting your research for their own ends," Dr. RÃ¤kmacka says. "Yet in whatever way these findings are implemented, I'm confident they will be of tremendous value to society."
[Happy April Fool's day! — Ed.]
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