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.