Stage 4: Stereotyping Other Drivers
When it comes to driving a car, stereotyping is encouraged
While most of us have been taught that stereotyping is bad, I couldn’t disagree more when it comes to driving a car. If I see a car that looks like it’s just lost a bumper car war, I’m going to back off. It’s possible that the driver of that car is a safe and responsible driver. However, I must operate based upon the information at hand. And the dragging tail pipe, duct-taped windows, and massive dents suggest that this driver is dangerous.
Remember that defensive driving is about preparing for the worst case scenario. Because you have zero control over what other drivers are going to do, you must try to anticipate their actions and position yourself for maximum safety should the crazy drivers around you do something unexpected.
Look at what the driver is doing
You can see a lot of what’s going on inside of another car and you should use this information to your advantage. If you see someone dancing in the driver’s seat and singing at the top of their lungs, they’re probably not very attuned to the world around them. I would increase my following distance.
As the driving teacher, your job is to help point out to your teen the type of behavior that should be watched. Here’s a list of common, unsafe behavior that should be considered dangerous:
- Dancing or singing.
- Applying make-up.
- Reading the newspaper.
- Talking on the cellphone.
- Reaching into the back of the car to slap an unruly child.
- Making out with the passenger.
- Changing clothes.
The type of behavior outlined above isn’t really “stereotyping” because you can clearly see that the behavior is dangerous. However, the list below may be considered controversial. However, just because we’ve “typed” someone, it doesn’t mean they’re dangerous. Read before you judge.
- Old, beat-up junkers. It’s possible that you can start this car with a screwdriver as opposed to a key. Hey, this 25-foot long boat may be safe for its driver, by when this two-ton beast smacks into you, it’s going to hurt. These cars are notorious for straddling the lane line. Stay back.
- Cars with racing stripes. They sometimes have the brand of car written in huge letters on the rear windshield. Probably has a 4-foot tall spoiler and several sets of exhaust pipes. The owner of this car wishes they owned a race car and may attempt to drive their 110 hp car as if it is one. Avoid eye contact when stopped as this may incite a race.
- Any car featuring cardboard or duct tape on its exterior. This driver doesn’t have much to lose. What’s one more fender bender? Give wide berth.
- Car that can bounce. If the car next to you features hydraulics and is bouncing up and down, you can rest assured that the owner has spent a ton of money on their car. They’re not going to drive like a lunatic, lest they ruin their investment.
- Personalized license plate. This actually doesn’t tell you much about the driver. Keep looking.
- Old drivers. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t lie. Older drivers cause more accidents than their younger counterparts. Give them a break, but give them a little more room.
Continue on to It’s Never OK to Speed