By on April 11, 2013

I recently yelled at another driver. I know, I know: this is bad behavior. It’s even worse because I have a Range Rover, which makes you look like a total prick when you’re yelling at someone else on the road. Or, you could remove “when you’re yelling at someone else on the road” and that sentence would still be true.

The good news is that it’s exceptionally rare when I verbally assault someone else. The only other time I’ve done it was in Miami, where I was immediately pulled over by a police officer and cited for driving in a bike lane. I’m not sure how road rage turned into driving in a bike lane, but the officer didn’t seem keen to stand around discussing it. He did, however, rhetorically ask: “Is there an emergency, sir?” which is code for: “Are you a complete jackass, sir?”

The answer to only one of those questions is yes.

The worst part is that in both situations, the other driver was in a Chevy Uplander, which means I didn’t need to yell at them to make them feel bad. In fact, it probably only compounded the depression they were already experiencing by simply being behind the wheel.

In the most recent situation, however, I feel my anger was slightly justified. The Uplander that caught my scorn was a taxi that cut from the right turn lane to the left turn lane, stopping at an angle that blocked the through lane. Which leads me to my point: taxi drivers are absolutely awful.

Taxi Driver Woes

Of course, the poor quality of taxi drivers is already one of life’s universal truths, just like Westboro Baptist Church picketing things like the arrival of summer, or scientific studies that discover virtually every food item causes cancer, or Lincoln’s comeback, which – based on yesterday’s article – is very obvious to everyone, as long as they’re me. But just to be sure we’re all on the same page about taxi drivers, allow me to share some of my recent observations.

One: taxi drivers can, and do, stop wherever they wish. This includes two-lane roads, driveways, and interstate highways, unless they’re being hailed by a racial minority.

Two: taxis don’t have to be up to the same standards as the vehicles driven by the rest of us. This means that loose-fitting Wal-Mart hubcaps are far more common than working turn signals. Or seat belts.

Three: even though every single taxi driver has an ear-mounted Bluetooth device, they drive as if they’re composing haikus using a Palm Pilot with a stylus.

Indeed, we all agree that taxi drivers are awful. But I’ve recently identified one group that’s even worse: car sharers.

Car Sharing Woes

ZipCar is the largest car sharing company in the US. It’s located in all major US cities, and also Pittsburgh. And not one person who uses it can drive.

Basically, ZipCar works like this: you don’t own a car because you’re either a broke college student or one of the few Americans who actually uses public transit. (In other words: a liberal. Or someone who lives in the Northeast. In other words: a liberal.) But you recognize that you occasionally need a car to do things, like visit a friend’s house to watch Jon Stewart. So you pay a monthly fee for ZipCar, which gives you on-demand access to a fleet of cars parked all around your city. Then, you can “check out” a car, much like you’d “check out” a DVD from Netflix. (And you return it with just as many scratches.)

The primary reason ZipCar’s drivers are the worst is obvious: they don’t drive very often. Since they’re not behind the wheel more than once every few days, or every few weeks, they fall out of practice with things like checking blind spots, or stopping at stop signs, or stopping at all. Fortunately, ZipCar doesn’t have any Chevy Uplanders, so I probably won’t be provoked into any fits of rage.

But there are two more reasons ZipCar drivers are the worst. One is that ZipCar covers fuel. That’s right: this is a rental car company that pays for the gas. Like me, you’re probably thinking “drag strip.” Or maybe even “track day.” But the coolest thing ZipCar has is an automatic BMW 328i, presumably with damaged suspension and gouged tires. Still, even if you don’t go a track day, free gas means there’s absolutely no benefit to driving in any manner besides foot to the floor.

The craziest part, however, is that ZipCar also pays for insurance. There’s a small deductible, of course, but ZipCar carries the policy. In other words, ZipCar provides free insurance to occasional drivers in unfamiliar vehicles who are going as fast as possible because they get free gas.

This, ladies and gentlemen, makes them worse than taxi drivers. Even taxi drivers in Chevy Uplanders.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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145 Comments on “The Worst Drivers Are In ZipCars...”


  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Yeah..no. Sorry Doug but I lived in NYC for 15 years before moving to the Bay Area just a few weeks ago. Zip Car drivers are not as bad as Taxis.

    Zip Car drivers actually try to follow the few driving rules they remember. Whereas Taxi drivers don’t follow any driving laws whatsoever and are never ticketed. Even worse amazingly taxi drivers are often VERY BAD at the ‘physical’ part of driving. But the absolute worst part of them is if you ever get dinged by one of them they LIE THEIR ASS OFF.

    Self driving taxis can’t come too soon.

    • 0 avatar

      The bit about lying taxi drivers is so true. ZipCar drivers don’t need to lie, because if they crash a car they just pay the deductible and get back in another ZipCar the next day.

      Good luck in the Bay Area. NYC must be a hard place to leave behind.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      When I was a claims adjuster one of my insureds hit a taxi. Minor accident, minor damage, and the taxi driver didn’t even claim complete paralysis. I was amazed.
      He did, however, try to tell me that they aren’t allowed to pick up fares in their cab if there is any damage to them, so he needed to be paid for his car’s down time while it was in the shop. It was difficult, but I managed not to laugh in his face despite being in the parking lot of the apartment complex he and 55 other taxi drivers lived which contained 55 beat up taxis ready for their next fare.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Those cabs in the apartment complex are not a free pool of vehicles that just any driver can use. Each cab is leased to an individual driver (or more likely two drivers who split the day into two shifts). If the cab is damaged and has to go to the body shop, the driver is on the hook for the lease payment no matter what. The driver has every right to be compensated for lost revenue.

        Stories like this remind me why people should always call a lawyer. If the accident isn’t your fault, call a lawyer and let the lawyer deal with all the baloney. You’ll get more money than if you tried to deal with the claim yourself and you won’t have to deal with some dirt bag adjuster who wants to laugh in your face.

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          I think his point is that all the taxis were beat up, and they were still in service, making the driver’s argument bullshit.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            Precisely. They very much could drive their cabs with minor damage, and they also very much can borrow someone else’s cab. You think if their cabs break down they just don’t work?
            And I’d also like to point out that I never said he didn’t get paid, just that I laughed at the absurdity.

          • 0 avatar
            Silvy_nonsense

            @Reino If the taxi driver’s car is in the shop being repaired, it can’t be used to generate revenue. The driver has a right to compensation for lost revenue and that has nothing to do with a judgement call made by an insurance adjuster about the condition of other cabs.

            @Land Ark Your insured caused an accident and the taxi driver doesn’t have to borrow anything from anyone. Making alternate transportation arrangements or proving compensation if you can’t was your job. If those taxis were freely available and ready to go, why didn’t you rent one for him?

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Silvy_nonsense,

            The point is the cab was unlikely to go into the shop at all, thus he was not going to be out of work, thus not deprived a livelihood, etc. It’s called fraud, and lots of people try it–it even happened to me when I was in college.

            Also, if it did go in the shop, if he still had the ability to go to work (through using an alternate vehicle), it’s not so cut-and-dry that he would be paid lost wages because if his car was equally damaged and out of commission through an act unrelated to the accident, he would NOT have lost wages. Thus, the argument that the accident caused him to lose wages is false, and that would have bearing on the insurance settlement.

            The specifics of what he’s owed probably vary considerably by state, so no one can make a blanket statement about what he would/would not get. Don’t jump to conclusions about what insurance must do.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Naah, they just drive according to the laws of their native countries.

      Such as they are.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        +1

        Here in Portland the airport cab concession is run by the “Somali Mafia”. The drivers are all fresh off the camel. You want to know FEAR – get in a clapped out Panther with a guy who is not only driving in snow for the first time, he is SEEING snow for the first time. Good times!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Good times indeed. The least you could have done is pour him a drink to calm his nerves and toast to his new life in Portland!

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I tip them VERY well. Figure it is the least I can do, being a cabbie has to be about the worst way to make a living, especially in a place like Portland ME.

          • 0 avatar
            markholli

            @krhodes1

            I would contest your point that “being a cabbie has to be about the worst way to make a living…”

            I had a very interesting conversation with a San Francisco cabbie a week ago on the way to the airport. They guy was originally from Brazil and planned to retire there as well. He is an owner-operator with a Fusion Hybrid. He told me he pulls in close to 11-12k a month, gross. Owns a home in the bay area, and a home and restaurant in Brazil. He makes enough money to take a month off each year to go back to Brazil.

            Sounds like a pretty good living to me.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @markholli

            San Francisco is probably an aberration. Cabs are scarce and expensive there, relatively speaking. Two main issues with being a cabbie – either there are too many cabs and/or not enough fares so you end up sitting around a lot making no money. Which is pretty much what Portland is like. Or you have a place like NYC where the cost of entry is so high you are working for some investor who owns the medallions. Not many owner-operators there! Often some combination of both. And of course places with regulated cheap rates – also NYC as a perfect example. Costs me about the same to go 6 miles from PWM to my house as 13 miles from LGA to my client in Lower Manhattan, and that includes the tunnel toll and takes at least 4X as long!

            I think you will find VERY few cabbies making more than a low working class wage. Long hours, crappy conditions, and you can get robbed at any time. No thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          Tim_Turbo

          Yup-I worked at PWM for a couple years, managed one of the Car Rental companies there-those guys are awful drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          Last time I took a cab in Portland (from my house to the Civic center for a concert) it was a white guy so I was surprised. Although I worked at a place that provided housing for Somalians and there was frequently a beat up State police blue Crown Vic parked in the garage which was in its second life as a Taxi. They are horrible drivers. But I’d say that the non-Somalis with bald all-seasons are almost as bad in snow.

          BTW, what’s up with 207 Taxi and their yellow Acuras? Very strange in a sea of Crown Vics and the occasional Prius cab.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The Somalis only have the airport. You have to have a special license from the airport to pick up there, and it is very expensive. The rest of the cabbies in Portland are most strange white dudes.

            There used to be a cab company in Portland that ran Audis, BMWs, and Peugeots, I wonder if 207 is the same company.

      • 0 avatar
        markholli

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        “Naah, they just drive according to the laws of their native countries.”

        And those are often former French colonies.

        I’m torn. Taxis are by far worse than the zip cars and iGos around Chicago, but you *know* the cab is likely to something stupid and are ready for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Bring on Johnny-Cab!

  • avatar
    I_Like_Pie

    This article is awesome!

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    A few years ago I was at a track day at Summit Point Shenandoah track and while watching the instructors’ session there was a base Mini Cooper that was just KILLING it. Dive bombing dudes in the corners, blasting through the caroussel, nailing every apex, just a textbook on “slow-car-fast” driving. There was some sort of logo on the door but I couldn’t make it out until I saw it later in the paddock. PhillyCarShare.com.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      lol. Insurance probably doesn’t cover PillyCarShare if the car’s on a track, so I guess you just have to hope any crash is mild enough to let you drive back onto public roads and pretend you rolled it out there.

  • avatar
    Draddy

    As a city dweller who uses zipcar instead of owning one, and enjoys an occasional John Stewart…yeah, this is true.

    I don’t know why they pay for gas, I love that they do, but I’m much more likely to drive with some pep than if I was footing the bill.

    Plus if I pay my 9 dollars extra a month, my deductible is zero for any insurance claims.

    The value of zipcar is huge, if they (and now their new owner Avis) can figure out the inventory issues.

  • avatar
    BeyondBelief

    When settling in to the front seat of a cab at SeaTac Airport, I noted to the driver that the seatbelt latch was broken. So he looped my seatbelt around the armrest.

    On that same ride at the exact moment my internal dialogue was saying, “You know, it’s never good to spend ANY time behind dump trucks” a rock bounced up and (BINK!) holed the windshield. Driver didn’t even notice.

    Haiku distraction, possibly.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Walmart sells hubcaps?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      If you want to call them that. It was hilarious when putting boxfans on your tires was popular. You’d get your wannabe ghettorat in there buying a set of 4 for $15, then would presumably have a stockpile for when they inevitably flew off into a pedestrian.

      EDIT: I worked at the Walbourg when those little “adornments” were popular. Those and fake stick-on ventports and bullet holes.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez

    YES! Thank you, I completely agree that zipcar drivers (in general) are awful. I make every effort to avoid them… However, I’m not entirely in agreement with your reasoning.

    I don’t think it crosses the mind of the average driver that “free” gas and insurance = drive like a nut. In fact, most of these guys just drive slow and poorly… kind of like an elderly person or out-of-towner. The insurance/not my car part might encourage them to park crappilly (ie, bumper park, door dings, etc.), but I think that’s about it… plus many drivers in urban areas do this regardless of whether it’s their vehicle or not.

    I’ll add my theory: in addition to not driving frequently, zipcar owners often drive in areas they are unfamiliar with. Take a typical SF zipcar driver; they might get a vehicle just for a day trip to Napa or elsewhere. I see them on HWY 1 all the time. They’re unfamiliar with the road, daydreaming/sightseeing, and generally drive like cars with out of state plates or ones adorned with a hertz sticker (slow and crappy).

    At a minimum, at least the zipcar is clearly labeled and avoidable, unlike the latest peer to peer car sharing businesses.

  • avatar
    dalava

    I still think U-Haul drivers are the worst.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Second that. Seeing a U-Haul cube van being cornered like it’s a 3-Series is both impressive and terrifying.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Of course they are. Uhaul, Budge, Penske…ect rent to people that have no clue on how to drive a car let alone a borderline commercial truck.

      I’ve had some experience in driving larger vehicles, so when I moved and had to use a 24′ truck from Budget (International 4300), it certainly was a different experience even from the 20′ UHaul I rented….and some people rent these with a car dolly on the back!

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I have made the 2000 mile trek from Detroit to Tucson, and a few years later, Tucson back to Detroit, in a 26′ Penske truck. Both times I was also towing a VW on a flatbed(and no it wasn’t because of electrical problems). I grew up towing boats, trailers, and various machines with a truck, so I was moderately comfortable with the moving truck. However, there was no way I would have let my wife drive that monstrocity. Anyone with $1000-3000 can drive one of these death machines cross country. That is terrifying. I have to trust other Americans to pack properly and full sucure thier vehicle? Terrible

        • 0 avatar

          I did about the same to a 26′ with a car trailer and it didn’t seem like a big deal at all. No double clutching is necessary. The poor thing could go no faster than 65, but then many semis do the same. So as long as I do not race anyone and watch my total length with the trailer so as not to cut off anyone, it’s very easy. Mind, freeways in the Southwest are awesome and I think the only place where you really need to slow down is Rt 58 between Techapi and Bakersfield.

          Coincidentially, my daughter drove the chase vehicle and managed to drive a 150 mile leg without an overdrive. Bumped the gear selector 1 notch and never noticed. Tachometer, wazzdat? Maybe driving a family SUV is harder than a 26′ rental truck with a car in tow.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Cross country in a 26′ Penske doesn’t sound so challenging to me. I had a Penske place in Virginia try to upgrade me from an 18′ box based on a van chassis to a 26′ box on a Top Kick for a move to the East Village in Manhattan once, and I decided that I’d rather cram all my stuff in a 14′ truck if that was all they had rather than pilot the 26′ truck around Manhattan. I had a summer job for three years in college that involved delivering fitness equipment with a UD 1100 cab-over box truck, but I didn’t want to drive that huge Penske in the city if I could avoid it.

          A former coworker and his girlfriend packed his Nissan Hardbody pickup and then drove it into one of those big Penskes. Then they packed the rest of their stuff around it. Then they hitched up her Volvo 245 and towed it from Virginia to Colorado. I know they survived the trip, as we kept in touch for a while.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It’s not difficult, it’s just a pain in the ass. The cross country drive in one of those things is a grind. It takes patience and concentration. Texas also never ends.

            The only thing that concerns me is that anyone can rent one. The same people that rent zip cars can rent 26′ trucks with a trailer.

          • 0 avatar

            There are other small things, like your car trailer cannot navigate some curbs at gas station entrances, and you must watch out for overhanging structures and bridges least you end on Failblog. It’s all true. But nothing insurmountable.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Good idea–if you’re single, give the car a good coat of polish, drive it into the back, put a soft cover on it, pack around it. Keeps everything out of sight, no trailer to worry about.

            Hmmm!

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          It is hard to believe that you can rent one of these monsters without having to go through a basic safety or handling training class. At my former job we were required to go through OSHA training and certification to use a small step ladder!

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        I rented a 24′ Budget truck years ago. Very weird to drive that thing since I was used to driving a Jetta so I was extra cautious (like a Zipcar driver). Loved the sound of that DT466 engine though.

    • 0 avatar
      BeyondBelief

      I note that U-Haul has discontinued marketing their “Adventure in Moving” phrase, a byline I always considered odd at best. Mainly we don’t want adventure as much as we want to save a few bucks while suppressing thoughts about hernia risk and our shit strewn for a half mile on the shoulder of I-5.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      Agreed. Last year one of my former neighbors and his wife managed to crash their U-Haul truck into my car when trying to back into a parking space.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    As a fellow NYC resident I +1 the statement that cabbies are worse. Zipcar drivers are generally too scared to do anything, ESPECIALLY while swimming in the waters with hyper aggressive cabbies & white van drivers. A Zipcar driver would rather miss their turn than assert themselves, so they generally fly under the radar.

    A cabbie on the other hand has no regard for ANYBODY. They are often sleep deprived on top of being on edge as well, so they are basically driving drunk. I know first hand (or first arthritic thumb) how dangerous these chowderheads can be. I got sideswiped by one who cut across 2 lanes to catch a fare, and every couple of months the same thing happens (though now I know to look for it). As great an opportunity as it is for these guys, I personally CAN’T WAIT for the self-driving car to come out and put these lunatics off the road. As a cyclist and motorcyclist in NYC they are the bane of my transportation existence.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      On a mountain bike, I’d be scared of your bretheren the MESSENGERS! (My understanding is that they’re so focused that they’ll NAIL pedestrians at full-tilt without even seeing them!)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I like that picture – “Hey, I’m drivin’ here!”

    On a related anecdote, I used to work for a not-gonna-be-named auto parts chain in a not-gonna-be-named major city, and my boss once sent me to collect a big outstanding balance from Habib and Al’s Third World Cab Company.

    I get there, argue with the guy about how his account’s five minutes away from getting cut off, and he heads in back to get the cash.

    On a whim, I leaned around the corner and peered into the back garage area.

    Yup, stereotypes exist for a reason.

    Five huge flatscreens, each ten feet up the walls, each with its own satellite dish and all of ‘em proudly blasting Al Jazeera.

    I thought about calling the FBI, but decided to just take the cash and leave.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Calling the FBI for what? Watching a channel that provides “Habib and Al’s” native language news free from censorship and propaganda? Having the nerve to immigrate to America, start a business, and pay taxes? Or just being “one of them”?

      Re: “Stereotypes exist for a reason” — they do work well at pointing out ignorance and baseless bias.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        Free from propaganda? Have you ever seen anything they show over there?

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          Yes. With regularity. A different point of view or spending 30 minutes reporting on a story that may merit 30 seconds in a US based newscast isn’t propaganda. Fox News and MSNBC, while offering wildly different viewpoints and emphasizing different news, are not restricted to reporting the ‘official’ government line devoid of criticism.

          Al Jazeera is generally recognized as the first independent news source in the Arab world, frequently criticizes regimes and provides dissenting views to the government line (for example, they won the FDR Four Freedoms award for free speech in 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms_Award).

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          You’re forgetting — if it appears after a quick glance to be anti-American (or anti-Semitic, that’s just as good), then by definition it must be good. Bonus smug points if there are a lot of brown people.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Hmm. Interesting that you ignored the more obvious stereotype — the deadbeats with huge TVs and satellite dishes — and went straight for racism. Contrary to what you might think, brown people are in fact actually *people*, and not just props to be used whenever your precious first-world superiority needs to be stroked, and ignored otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Different censorship and propaganda, not free from.

        (That said, yes. Calling the FBI?

        For… watching TV? Yeah, no. That’s just stupid.)

        • 0 avatar
          guevera

          Al-jazeera, despite being financed by the royals from Qatar, is actually very aggressive about its editorial independence. They do at least as good a job as the U.S.-based broadcast outfits at keeping the owners from f***ng with the news.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Damn those immigrants for watching news in their native tongue and not being like americans abroad; blending perfectly into the setting speaking and understanding french/spanish/turkish/german/etc. without even the slightest hint of an accent.

    • 0 avatar
      campocaceres

      I won’t speculate as to how you came to your conclusions about that TV network, but I do think it is worth noting that this site’s own founder was interviewed live on Al-Jazeera to discuss the GM bailout.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/06/farago-on-al-jeazera-inside-story-general-motors-bankruptcy-02-june-09/

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Awesome article. I was coming down the NJ turnpike the other week and noticed my first Zipcar. Some kid behind the wheel, had one of those really scruffy beards, but clean cut….. I don’t get it. Going very slowly down the road too.

    I deal with truck drivers everyday. That’s a whole different breed of drivers (and for the most part, human beings).

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “It’s located in all major US cities, and also Pittsburgh.”

    Pretty funny, and true. As one who grew up in Pittsburgh’s suburbs, I’m amazed at how the city still considers itself to be large, despite losing half (yes, 50%+) of its population over the last 40 years.

  • avatar
    colby

    I use zipcar when visiting other cities or as a second car option. For example, when my wife is at work then I can a rent a zipcar to go to the gun range.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Taxi drivers are somewhat annoying here in Boston too but they tend to be a city problem mostly. Outside of that from worst:

    1. Pruis drivers
    2. pickup trucks
    3. minivan moms
    4. smaller German car pricks (BMW 3/5 series, Audi A4, VW)
    5. riced out kid-driven older cars

    • 0 avatar
      rickyc

      Where I live it’s pretty much the same however I have noticed there’s a theory behind it all:

      Prius drivers hog the left lane aka the fast lane no idea why since slower traffic should keep to the right, which in return causes the faster drivers usually German cars or as you refer to them “German car pricks” to cut in and out of these slow traffic hogging bastards. Then the pickup drivers get their ego crushed when they see the German car prick(lets call them GCP for short) pass them so they speed up and close and spaces that would allow passing. Here come the soccer moms who are babysitting and driving at the same time while putting on makeup and so on. Last but not least the ricers comeby hoping to do drive by fueled by their coffee can exhaust and the latest edition of the fast and furious movies. See it’s all connected :)

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      “1. Pruis drivers
      2. pickup trucks
      3. minivan moms
      4. smaller German car pricks (BMW 3/5 series, Audi A4, VW)
      5. riced out kid-driven older cars”

      German drivers get a bad rap for the most part. They might be aggressive sometimes but they are usually paying attention. Interestingly I think volkswagen drivers are perhaps the best of all. I haven’t seen any really stupid volkswagen drivers since I moved out West.

      • 0 avatar
        rickyc

        I agree, I’m a German driver(guess which one?)and I’m always on my A game when driving. My car is manual so talking and driving is out of the question. I always keep my car in tip top shape, proper tire pressure, maintenance,etc. I have a lot of experience driving on roads here as well as the autobahn(150mph+) and let me tell ya the things i see drivers do here is just crazy. However my main gripe is always the same in most areas, slow drivers in the left lane. Sheesh if you see like 6 cars being held up behind you just speed up and more over, i mean why be a prick?

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          I suspect that most who criticize aggressive German car drivers have never driven one. I used to own a 3-series coupe and, although I took pains to be considerate while on the highway, I still drove faster than most traffic. The reason is it’s incredibly easy to do so without even realizing how fast you’re going. German cars are simply engineered to travel at high speeds effortlessly. It’s not like driving a low-line GM or Toyota product.

          For example, if there was a clot of slower traffic in both the left and center lanes of a six-lane interstate, and the right lane was clear, I’d just smoothly move over (with proper lane changes and signals) and go around it. I have no doubt that the majority of those in the clot were thinking, “Freaking asshole BMW driver!”.

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          I’m also a German car (although Hecho en Mexico) driver who tries to abide by the rules of the road and keeps my car in good shape. I just spent a bunch of money on new tires because I decided that the factory tires sucked on my car. Meanwhile when I park at work I’ll look at the cars beside mine and most of them have balding, under inflated or Chinesium tires. I do drive aggressively, but not sit in the left land and ride someone’s butt aggressively. I do get very annoyed by left lane bandits. Sometimes passing on the right becomes a necessity in that case, even though a lot of people already do it because most drivers are like water in that they look for the path of least resistance.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        You’ll soon see plenty of really stupid VW drivers, as well as really stupid drivers of all other makes.

        As a fellow northeast transplant in the Bay Area, I can say it is an adjustment. The anger and spiteful competitiveness of the northeast is replaced by clueless drivers who could not be more in their own world. I think I prefer the northeast road rage, as it is more predictable and easier to plan for. Not sure though; I bet I’ll miss driving in the Bay Area next time I visit MA.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      You list rounds up around 65% of road population, doesn’t it?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I would argue that all other drivers are annoying and a threat to my safety. A list covering 65% is a good start though.

        People have biases and therefore see behavior that reinforces those biases. Drivers of all makes and models, in every city, suck in their own unique way.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      1. Pruis drivers
      2. pickup trucks
      3. minivan moms
      4. smaller German car pricks (BMW 3/5 series, Audi A4, VW)
      5. riced out kid-driven older cars

      You left old folks in land barges.

      What does that leave? Midsize sedans and SUV/CUVs?

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Around Boston, the absolute worst drivers (aside from taxicabs) are in CR-Vs.

      Seriously. Keep an eye out.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      The worst drivers ever are plow drivers. I don’t mean the professional construction equipment plows, I mean the light truck sized ones. I can’t tell you the amount of times they backed their big ass F350 out into traffic or cut people off, and always in the worst whether conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      First on my list is anyone with Washington plates. Oregon, fine. Nevada, fine. Arizona, fine. Washington, watch out.

      The road boulders in the left line drive me nuts too. Californians are awful about this.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “It’s located in all major US cities, and also Pittsburgh.”

    I enjoyed that. :)

    Hell, I enjoyed the whole article. Keep ‘em coming!

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    “…[Zipcar drivers] fall out of practice with things like checking blind spots, or stopping at stop signs, or stopping at all.”

    98% of drivers can’t even be bothered to signal a lane change, so it’s not realistic to expect them to successfully execute a complex task like checking a blind spot. Picking on Zipcar drivers in particular isn’t fair when your complaints apply to every dummy on the road.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I’ll certainly join the hate on cabs. Here in DC, I call the cabs the Third World motorpool. If there’s something stupid to be done on the road, count on them to do it. I will happily pay the modest premium to use the Uber limo service when I need a cab.

    ZIPCAR has been around here for a while, and I find their drivers to be innocuous. As others have said, if anything, they’re a little bit cautious as you would expect most people to be when they’re driving an unfamiliar vehicle — whether their driving skills are tip-top or not.

    As far as driving in NYC is concerned, IMHO only a lunatic does that. Better to walk, take the bus or subway, or take a cab when you can find one (NOT in rush hour, especially if the weather is bad).

    I’m really not gonna hate on ZIPCAR. For a lot of people here in DC, it makes plenty of sense: when you need to go out to the suburbs to buy something, use the ZIPCAR.

    And, if I lived in NYC, I wouldn’t own a car. I’d just rent something to get the hell out of town on weekends and restore my sanity . . . as lotsa people do.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    People – whether in ZipCars or not – who stop in the middle of a traffic circle/roundabout – in which traffic is NOT SUPPOSED TO STOP – deserve to get yelled at. As do those outside the circle who don’t yield to those in it. Do I yell at them? No, there’s little point…but they DO deserve it.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Just looked at their rates. $83 a day to drive a Sentra? Not only do these people drive infrequently, they must not drive far when they do.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Smart folks use Zipcars by the hour. I’m sure people do rent Zipcars for a full day, but I’ve never actually seen it. If you need a car for an entire day you can probably get a better rate from Enterprise/Hertz/etc.

      However, “traditional” car rentals don’t include gas or insurance, so you’ve got to add those costs on top of your daily rate. Also, don’t forget sales tax and the outrageous “special” taxes that states and cities add to rental car rates. $83 per day isn’t the cheapest deal you can get, but you don’t have to travel far to pick up the car, gas and insurance are included and you don’t get hit with a bunch of extra taxes and fees. Compared to the full cost of a traditional rental, Zipcar’s daily rate isn’t too bad.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        As a very frequent renter, I can say you are doing WELL when you can rent a car for less than $100 a day. I had a FIAT 500 yesterday in Greenville SC, and with ONLY the damage waiver it was $122.80 for one day – that is with our company discount. Add another $30+ for FULL insurance coverage. Plus gas. And Greenville is really cheap for taxes and fees compared to many places.

        • 0 avatar
          MeaCulpa

          Jebus, I thought that car related stuff were suppose to be cheap in the US. I can rent a ford KA with unlimited miles for 249 Swedish (about $40 US) including 25% sales tax, or an a6 or V70 station wagon for 789 (125 bucks) at the local (albeit national chain) gas station that is located like 1/3 of a mile from the city center. They might be cheap but hertz charges 900 for a V40 or 825 for a fiesta ($ 140 and $130) including sales tax and unlimited miles.

          Now you got me looking up rental prices. If you ever come to Sweden avoid Europcar, they charge double the rates of Hertz for some reason.

          • 0 avatar

            What I’ve found is that everything car-related is considerably cheaper in the US, EXCEPT rental cars. They are immensely cheap in Europe. I assume that’s because they have to compete with people who would otherwise take trains.

          • 0 avatar
            MeaCulpa

            @Doug DeMuro

            It might be that the competition from mass transit is driving prices down. I personally don’t rent all that often, but that cheap A6 seems like such a deal that I just might start. Having looked at the cheap rentals makes not having a car and renting whenever public transportation won’t cut it seem like an appealing idea.

          • 0 avatar
            wstarvingteacher

            Just rented a Versa from Enterprise for four days and put a thousand miles on it. Weekend rate cost was under $80. We do this a lot if the trip is over 150 miles from home. Just bought a new car and keeping the miles down.

            Insurance is our normal car insurance and no extra charge to use a different car. BTW the service charges to rent one from the airport is considerably more. Don’t remember how much but I think about double. Weekday rate is even more.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I routinely rent under $100 a day. though parent company is huge so discount is probably good, insurance is included for us.

          I still have my Hertz discount from my old software startup employer…I checked I could rent a Focus monday at GSP for less than $50/day($24 weekend), Most expensive was a Chevy Traverse for $81/day. With no discount it was $60 weekday for the Focus.

          Where are you booking your travel? Might want to check on that your company is getting ripped…

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Yup, ~$50/day for the car. Plus $29 for insurance, and another $30 in taxes and fees. Equals over $100 a day. I always reserve full-size cars, usually it is ~$10-15/day more than a compact, and gets you “Hertz Choice” car selection. In this case they offered me a Malibu, but I saw the FIAT and took that instead – they don’t change the rate, though I suppose if I made a stink they might – can’t be bothered. We get from 5-20% off the normal rate, insurance NOT included. In this case, the actual car rental was $68 after a 5% discount, the incidentals brought the total to $122.

            When I first started with this company, I rented from the cheaper outfits, but the experience was annoying enough that I went back to the majors, and settled on Hertz as having the best car selection. My previous employer had an actual Avis account – I never even saw the bill. Never got the perks either though!

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      I’ve seen plenty of Zip cars in campgrounds in West Virginia and up in the Blue Ridge mountains, out in the Assateague National park campground too. DC tags, usually…. so people do rent them for days and drive long distances with them. I guess it’s the convenience factor vs. taking public transport to National to rent one for (escalated) rates or having Enterprise drop one off.

      I haven’t had any first-hand experience with bad Zipcar drivers, but I sure do see a lot. Besides the ‘free’ fuel and insurance, one of the other perks that Doug forgot is the reserved priority parking spots they get. This is no small thing!

      Car2Go doesn’t get the reserved spots, but there are plenty of times I wish I had a membership, because there’s usually one or two in my neighborhood, and if I were going to, say, Adams Morgan for any reason I’d want to park a Smart vs. my old Subaru.

  • avatar
    Draddy

    Well for me it’s 8-12 dollars an hour or 50-80 a day. It all depends on the city.

    As long as my zipcar bill is less per month than my insurance bill would be, I think I’m coming out ahead. (I tried the cheap car route for a while. I prefer zipcar)

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Does anyone really drive faster because gas is free? I pay for my own gas, and that hasn’t slowed me down…

    Also, I second the comment above saying that ZipCar drivers tend to be slow and under-assertive. Definitely bad drivers because of their inexperience, but hardly speed demons.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Not because the gas is free, but because I’ve got X number of errands to run and I only rented the car for two hours and even though I could probably extend the rental (assuming someone else isn’t waiting for the car) I won’t because God forbid I add on an extra half hour and pay another $4.

      Of course, people who own cars never hot foot it because they’re under some kind of time constraint. That never happens. It’s a Zipcar only phenomenon!

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        Yeah the zip cars driving fast doesn’t ring true. I am not sure it rings true for rental cars in general.

        here is why I disagree with that observation:

        1) In NYC its actually challenging to drive fast because there is so much traffic. Its like that in most cities – and that’s where zip cars are popular.

        2) I know in most rental cars they have GPS trackers which tell the rental company the car location and its speed. I imagine zip cars have the same type of thing – making speeding something that will really get you in trouble.

        3) Accidents in rental cars will get you banned from rental cars (so I am told). I’d wager there is something like that for zip cars – crack up one and they won’t let you rent em anymore..

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Exactly, most Zipcar drivers I’ve seen have an expression that is roughly that of my Grandma if she were racing the Daytona 500.

  • avatar
    chopperjamie

    As a long time motorcycle rider, I have spent a lot of time observing poor drivers. As a collective, Volvo drivers are the worst drivers I have seen.
    I mentioned it to a riding partner a long time ago and they just laughed and called me silly. Since then, every time I see someone doing something stupid, I point and make a “V” with my two fingers. She finally admitted I am right. I give Volvo drivers a wider berth than Taxi drivers….

  • avatar
    cargogh

    My friend, Chip, has two sisters. A good one, and one who drives a Range Rover. He’s always maintained she is a prick.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Funny, the only zipcars I’ve seen in San Diego are Smarts, and somebody keeps parking them in my neighborhood. I don’t yell at them, I just pity them.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    To carry your logic to an end; say that all drivers who take public transportation are inherently bad drivers. How could they possibly be good drivers when they surrender the biggest drive of their day to someone else? I used to walk by my CUV in my building’s parking lot to take the subway to the Pentagon.

  • avatar
    vanwestcoaster

    I agree – here in Vancouver there are at least half a dozen car-share providers, including ZC. While the participants’ goals are worthy, the problem is they tend to be timid/distracted drivers who have lost – or never were comfortable with – the active awareness necessary to drive a car in a busy urban setting – lots of pedestrians/cyclists to watch out for, short intersection lights, watching cars ahead to see who’s making a left turn, etc. I’m hoping a good number of them, urged on by my horn and “half-a-peace-sign” gesture as George Carlin described a single-finger salute, decide to buy a transit pass.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    And Im willing to bet the worst bicycle riders and skaters are the ones at the beach on rented units, too. Nothing really surprising, there.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I don’t know who’s paying $100/day for car rentals in the US. My last trip to FL to see Pops, I paid $14/day from Hertz, and that included all the taxes and fees.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If you rented something for $14/day from Hertz you got the deal of the century. Most places have more than that in taxes and fees, never mind the rental fee. I think I rented an Aveo from Enterprise at MSP once for a 1/2 day for $35 – I was stuck there due to a cancelled flight and went and visited friends for the day.

      The only times I am paying less than $100/day are weekends (in non-tourist destinations) or weekly rentals. Typically the taxes, fees, and insurance are nearly 50% of the total for shorter rentals. And I rent almost EVERY week for work somewhere, sometimes multiple somewheres. 95% of the time from Hertz. Off airport locations are typically a lot cheaper, as they don’t have to pay the airport fees. Which can be completely outrageous – IIRC DFW has a nearly $50 “facility fee” on every single rental. But when you fly in, you are a captive audience.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Non-airport facilities will have cheap rates

        $14/day is probably MCO, lots of cheap tourist rates there, all the rentals are off facility there so maybe there isn’t a huge facility fee I haven’t been there in a while.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Cost of the rental varies greatly by location. At an airport you are screwed. In a city it is still expensive. In what amounts to a bedroom community, not so bad.

          I can get into a C-segment car at my go-to Enterprise for about $50/day after insurance, and this is in the SF Bay Area.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike

        I went to PR this past Jan.
        I booked a mid size car through JetBlue/Enterprise
        Free shuttle from San Juan Airport to the lot.
        After a unsurprisingly long line, an extra 10$ a day for 2 drivers, my insurance covers me in a rental.
        Took me out to the lot, pointed at a CVT altima, last gen accord, or ’13 sonota. Took the sonata.
        So $39 for 5 days plus a discount. Totaled $177 for 5 days unlimited milage 2 drivers to go around in a 6k mile new sonata. Bluetooth was nice too.
        Overall I don’t feel that was a bad deal.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        I do admit that it was the deal of the century. It was at FLL, not MCO, but Ft. Lauderdale is indeed a tourist destination. Waht’s more impressive is that the return was on Christmas Day!

        Once I had booked my flight, I kept pinging all over the web looking for a rental car deal. Everyone was at $69.95/day. I didn’t want to pay that.

        Finally, at 3AM PDT on the Wednesday before the flight, Hotwire came back at $6.95/day, plus fees. I figured it was an error, but it went all the way through the checkout at $114.95 total for 8 days.

        It pays to be persistent!

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      Ditto, how do you do that, or get anything close to it? Florida thing only?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Going to have to disagree. The worst drivers of all are those who rent RVs from Cruise America. They have no clue on how to drive a 24′ long vehicle with blind spots, long braking distances, the handling of a walrus, and limited acceleration. The whole idea of just show up and rent an RV is terrifying to me. Unlike say a U-Haul truck that someone will typically drive a bit more gingerly once all their stuff is inside – someone in a Cruise America RV has got to make time between Yellowstone and Glacier baby!!!

    • 0 avatar

      In each of my articles, there tends to be a comment that makes me reconsider my entire line of thinking. In my Lincoln story, it was ALL of the comments.

      In this story, you are the winner. Very true.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Going to have to disagree. The worst drivers of all are those who rent RVs from Cruise America.”

      So true. Here’s a prime example. Boston’s North End has narrow streets similar to old medieval sections of European cities. Last year some clown tried to take an RV down some of the streets and managed to not only hit several parked cars, but buildings as well.

      http://goo.gl/ePzj5

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Doode, the schtick was fun the first 17 times. Try something else. When we got rid of two leased cars in Manhattan the zip cars worked awesome. We drove what we liked on a particular day and clients paid for it. Over two years the average money were less than the lease by 40 percent or so. Not everyone lives in boonies and drives rovers.

    • 0 avatar

      Some days, I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people who takes online humor articles seriously AND feels compelled to complain about them.

      But then I realize it would involve making pretentious statements like: “Not everyone lives in boonies and drives rovers.”

      Admit it: you’re one of the people who complained to the FCC during the Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, aren’t you? Aren’t you??

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    “And not one person who uses [Zipcar] can drive.”

    Just for the record, I use Zipcar and car2go, and I’m an excellent driver.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “I’m an excellent driver.”

    I loved Rain Man.

  • avatar
    PCP

    Isn’t Road Rage utterly dangerous in the States?

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      Not nearly the problem it is in Russia, apparently. Trust me, I’ve done hours of extensive dash-cam research on this subject.

      I suppose here we’re more likely to have a firearm than a baseball bat, though I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone get out of their car on the road in anger though.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Didn’t that just happen a couple weeks ago in one of the banjo states…Alabama, I think? Guy got out after an accident on a two-lane and plugged another guy with his 45.

        Still fairly rare, though, but obviously it’s going to increase as the working class continues to crumble.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Unfortunately, I have. It was even directed at me! I’ve heard of similar experiences from people I know as well.

        You must either live an area that is very laid back, or an area that is so dangerous no one would have the balls to get out of their car. When I saw this it was in MA. Not laid back, yet in a safe enough area for a punk to risk it.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    No ZipCars here. My middle finger starts twitching whenever I see a PT Cruiser or any red BMW.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    The author has a point here.

    I seriously believe that the amount of personal investment (from a psychological standpoint, not a financial one) one has in their vehicle and the idea of driving is directly proportional to their skill and ability as a driver.

    As in sports, those who love the game most play it the best.

  • avatar

    not just zip car but its rivals, too. the other day, in redwood city at 6am, i watched a twonk in one of these things pull a u-turn on a red light – i had the right of way but had to wait for this asshole. then i blew him off on the freeway but shortly later, the arse passed me in the high occupancy lane – there was no one else in the car other than the idiot driver.

    i was tempted to call the cops ….

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I’m an RX8 owner. Know why I drive zipcars?

    1) WAY cheaper then renting a car when traveling to other cities (think no overnight parking, which can be $40/night or more in some cities).

    2) make/model specific rentals, vs most rental cars

    3) when I actually NEED a pickup/van/suv, which is only a few times a year.

    I’m happy to join anyone who believes this means I can’t drive on the next track day to help with their worldview.

  • avatar
    mvoss

    You probably won’t see this because this is an older article and you get like a million comments per, but for a semester, I actually had ZipCar. I thought it was a genius idea for those who cannot currently own a vehicle.

    I got a $25 credit for signing up through Emory, and I blew it on the Mini convertible to drive around my friends, and attempt to do donuts in the Audi in a random church parking lot. Of course, whenever I needed it for actual business, I made sure to go as fast as possible by flooring it everywhere. Usually, it wasn’t that much fun because their cars are not very powerful, but it’s a nice little release if you’re used to driving normally.

    Also, ZipCars tend to be very expensive in the long run. With the fees that add up through random things, you’ll realize it might have been cheaper simply to have a car payment.

    I do agree with you, though. I feel like I’ve seen a disproportionate amount of accidents involving zipcar drivers…


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