A new UCLA study has concluded you would have been late even if there had been no traffic, a finding that could upend conventional wisdom about the nature of why you were late.

“Your mind is conditioned to perceive that traffic made you late,” said UCLA urban planning professor James Ronson, an author of the study. “Our data shows that you actually left too late, so you weren’t going to be on time anyway.”

Ronson clarified that the study did find that unexpected traffic added several minutes to your drive, but added that the amount of time you allowed for the drive was not sufficient in the first place.

The study also found some evidence that you might have been late even if you hadn’t had to drive as far, though the data was not statistically significant.

Some critics of the study defended you, stating that the study’s authors did not see the bigger picture.

“Yes, you should have left earlier,” said Jeff Bradley, director of USC’s Lindsay Lohan Institute for the Study of Transportation Conflict. “But if there hadn’t been traffic, then you’d have been only 10 minutes late, which is more forgivable, as opposed to, like, 20 minutes late.”

Credit: Photo by Jill Stewart

Credit: Photo by Jill Stewart

Ronson responded that you should have anticipated traffic and allowed some time for it. “With the direction you were going, at that particular time of day, there was going to be traffic,” he said. “You shouldn’t have depended on Waze to save you. Everyone else is using Waze too.”

Professor Ronson said he hopes to expand this burgeoning field, with plans for future studies on whether you would have been late even if the bus had come when it was supposed to, and whether you would have called on the way home even if your Bluetooth hadn’t died.

Ronson is best known for the controversial 2006 study that concluded that the car in front of you did stop short but if you had allowed more following distance you would not have hit it.

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