They Drive Like That Because.....
However, I thought it might be interesting to think a bit more about some of these strereotypes and see if there is any truth to the myth.
(As an aside, saying the word 'myth' reminds me of that peachy Stuart Francis one liner; "I met a Transvestite with a speech impedement last night, man or myth?")
Anyhoo, taking the first example of the driver I cruised up behind this morning; this was a 1996 Nissan Micra. My mind won't allow me to be impartial. I'm stereotyping immediately. The following thoughts enter my mind. It's gone 9am and they are travelling at 30 mph on a 60 mph limit road; there is clearly no hurry. Why? They must be retired. Why? It's the sort of car driven by retirees who have long lost the ambition for material gain. They are watching the pennies. Cars are a means of getting to the shops and back. See? How bad am I. The car is immaculate. They have time to look after it. They see the virues in looking after their little car. Look after it and it might see them out.
They are indecisive at roundabouts. "There's a gap, go!" I cry. Alas, they wait. Why? Their brain aint as fast as it used to be and they know it. So why hurry anyway? Why risk it? Do they seek small subsconcious satisfactions from merging efficiently, like I do? Of course not. Back in the day there would have been no need anyway. There was less traffic, less need to get that gap and get to work on time.
I begin to wonder where they will go. I decide it will be the local centre, with a paper shop. There is still vapour from the exhaust; the engine is cold, they haven't been out long. The turning is up ahead, will they take it and prove me right? Yes, they do. I'm smug and don't even realise it.
Whilst this is happening, a Transit van has cruised up to my rear bumper. It's an 'Interlink' courier van. Driver - mid twenties, shades on, pre-occupied with finding a cigarette. He shouldn't be smoking in that van. He must drive it all the time, just him. He's a rebel too. Ignoring company policy and the law. He's in a hurry. He know the drops he has to do and knows when they are done he can finish for the day. I'm a hinderance. But he's clocked the Micra and knows it's not me. He shakes his head in disgust. His agenda is quite different from the bloke in the Micra who I decide looks like a 'Stan'.
As the Micra turns off, it's just me and him. I feel a need to prove that I want to get on with it too. As I accelarate in my diesel Astra, he comes with me. I'm now his friend. I sense he has relaxed a little. Especially as the gap groes and he knows progress is now all down to him. He turns right at the next roundabout, launching it in fast. He drives that van all day. He knows how it handles.
Amazing what you didn't realise you thought about whilst driving. Sizing up other all the time. Looking for clues. Not being surprised when someone does something because you have thought about the world from their perspective.
And that's it - it's not about good and bad drivers. Yes, there are those, of course. But it's all for a reason. I believe when you think about why we all drive the way they do, you personalise the whole experience and become more tolerant as a result. It's not just a tin box driving itself.
I think I have always done this, but I'm more aware of it now, since riding a bike. Analysing drivers and pre-empting decisions they make is the difference between life and death. It's a science and I love it.