We all like to think of ourselves as good drivers, but could you honestly say you always indicate at roundabouts or when turning into junctions, and do you without fail pause at zebra crossings so pedestrians can pass, and do you routinely and conscientiously check you’ve left adequate space for cyclists?
Equally, can you genuinely say you’ve never blocked a box junction, never cut up another driver, and never deliberately driven through a puddle to get a pedestrian or cyclist wet? If, however, you can answer ‘yes’ to all of the above, you sit comfortably in the good motorist category. If you can’t… Well, welcome to the world of the typical motorist. But good driver or bad, saint or sinner, we are all quick to pass judgment on other road-users who we perceive to be poorer drivers than ourselves.
In other words, anyone and everyone. Research carried out by MoneySupermarket as part of its driving etiquette survey shows that discrimination is rife on our highways, with “white van men” being viewed as the rudest motorists on the road. White van man is a long-established stereotype in the UK, used to describe those who drive smaller-sized commercial vans. These individuals are often self-employed tradesmen, such as plumbers or builders running small businesses – rather than being professional freight-drivers. Yet irrespective of their profession, for many years now, drivers of white vans have been accused of being aggressive, selfish or inconsiderate.
While MoneySupermarket’s findings may not be particularly surprising given the reputation white van drivers have rightly or wrongly built up over time, what is interesting to discover is that white van drivers are generally polite to their white-van driving counterparts. In fact, the research revealed that motorists are more likely to be courteous to someone driving the same make of vehicle as they are. If you are a white van driver, there’s no need to feel too victimised, as you’re not alone in the rogue’s gallery of rudest drivers on the road.
According to MoneySupermarket’s findings, other motorists given this dubious accolade include those who sit behind the wheel of a Porsche, a 4x4 (such as a Range Rover or other MPV or SUV), a BMW and a Mercedes. Also featuring in the alleged top 10 rudest drivers are those behind the wheel of a Lexus, a Saab, a Mazda, a Jaguar or a Seat. By contrast, there’s a very different list of names which feature in the “top 10 most polite drivers on the road,” with Ford owners topping this poll, followed by those who drive an Audi, a Citroen, a Vauxhall and a Peugeot.
Just outside the top five, but still inside the top 10, are those who own a Volkswagen, a Honda, a Fiat, a Nissan, and also those who own one of the models which formed the butt of many a car joke until the business was taken over by VW, a Skoda. So why do white van men get such a hard time? Maybe it’s because these drivers spend all day on the road, getting more and more frustrated at other road users who get in their way. But is that really an excuse for rudeness and road rage?
Taxi drivers and other workers who have to spend all day behind the wheel for their jobs aren’t generally regarded as guilty of poor driving etiquette, and don’t attract the same reputation from other drivers. So what’s the difference when it comes to being behind the wheel of a white van? On a serious note, there can be severe consequences to being an ill-tempered white van driver, as this could result in you breaking the law, causing a collision, or compromising the safety of fellow-road users, including other drivers, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
Equally, if you break the law by running an amber light, not stopping at a zebra crossing, or failing to give cyclists enough space, this could result on points on your licence. If this happens, this could push up the cost of your van insurance quotes in the future – and in the most serious cases, make it hard to find cover at all. So next time, before you lean on the horn to vent your road rage or consider breaking the law, take a moment to think about the consequences. Or try to imagine what a Ford driver would do in the same situation, as you might just find it makes your day spent on the road passes just that little bit more smoothly.