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Old 08-26-2003, 07:32 PM
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White van man, or are UK drivers that bad?


Cable television stations in the United States are filled with police camera shows from the UK. You've probably seen them .... "'Ere we've got a lorry on the motorway .... there it goes over the central reservation, into the opposing carriageway, onto the slip ramp, and over the verge. Fortunately, the local constabulatory were following. God Save the Queen."

US police camera programs usually show police chases, with the occasional bad driver thrown in. The UK police camera programs -- I mean programmes -- show mostly bad drivers, doing idiotic things that I've seldom seen in my 250,000 miles of driving history. Of special note is "white van man," or very aggressive van drivers. Van drivers don't have a reputation as being particularly aggressive in the US, but in the UK they are known as notorious motoring maniacs.

So, UK dopers, and US dopers that have spent some time in the UK ... are UK drivers really that bad? Why is the UK "white van man" so aggressive, while they're not so bad in the US and Canada?
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Old 08-26-2003, 08:00 PM
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I noticed this phenomenon ten years ago in Australia, long before I heard the British had actually given it a name (we get those shows here too).

White vans in Sydney are driven by maniacs. I wondered why until I bought a van myself, hoping to pick up some extra work. Courier deadlines are brutal, and the money is hard earned. The day I caught myself driving through a red light was the day I decided it wasn't the job for me.
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Old 08-26-2003, 08:56 PM
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One day I was watching one of those programs and they were showing a car chase from a helicopter. The bad guy was blasting through traffic causing all sorts of mayhem, ignoring signals, running from the police, and the commentator said "Look at him! He just undertook that car!"
To my New Jersey ears, this sounds as silly (under those circumstances) as saying "Look at him! He just tossed a gum wrapper out the window!"

Back to the OP: Is a "White van man" a special term for a delivery man or a particular company's vans, or is it simply the term given to all white vans? The always talk about them as if all Brits know about White Van Men.
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Old 08-26-2003, 09:05 PM
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"White van man" sounds like a slang word for kidnapper.

Or is it just me?
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:00 PM
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I just returned from a year in England. White van men are no different than our SUV drivers here in the States. Because their vehicles are larger, many of them suffer from the notion that they are invincible; they are therefore a danger on the road.

Saying that, I just want to say that English drivers are some of the most polite I've ever seen. I miss driving there. For the most part, I find the English to be sensible, law-abiding drivers who are consistently considerate to the other drivers on the road. No one ever honked their horn at me, no matter how many times I went around the roundabout or cut across lanes for my exit...or forgot to pull out of the LEFT side of a parking lot exit. I can say the same for most of Europe...excluding Paris and Rome, where everyone behind the wheel is certifiably insane.
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by shrew
... Paris and Rome, where everyone behind the wheel is certifiably insane.
Those shuttle rides from Charles DeGaulle airport are a thrill a minute!

I have not noticed very bad UK drivers. I am always impressed with people who drive so skillfully on very narrow streets and roads in Europe in general. I observe worse driving habits in the U.S. ... Then there's Mexico!
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:32 AM
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Does "whie van man" refer to fathers driving family minivans, or young men driving delivery vans and other commercial vehicles?
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Old 08-27-2003, 03:10 AM
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White Van Man refers to delivery drivers as delivery vehicles tend to be white.

I wouldn't say UK drivers are worse than any other place. The worst drivers I've seen would probably be in Hong Kong. White lines seperating lanes mean nothing to these people.
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Old 08-27-2003, 06:18 AM
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White Van Man is also a sort of sociological term, referring to youngish, aggressive, poorly-educated men who usually sport close-cropped hair, own violent dogs and holiday in Ibiza or Faliraki. At least that's how I understand it, being an horrendous snob.
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Old 08-27-2003, 06:56 AM
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South Africans who move to the UK (and there are plenty of us here nowadays) are shocked at the levels of consideration and politeness shown by UK drivers - especially toward pedestrians. There are exceptions - "white van man" and anyone in the centre of London being two examples - but on the whole, UK drivers are much calmer than thier South African counterparts.

An interesting site with some international road death statistics for 2001. By the measure of numbers of fatalities per 100000 of population, Portugal leads the field (of 30, mostly European countries) with 21.0, the USA comes in at no. 5 with 14.8 and the UK ties with Norway at no. 28 with just 6.1

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Old 08-27-2003, 07:08 AM
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After a little research, the best I can to for South Africa, just in case anyone is interested, is the figures for 1998, when there were 9086 road deaths, and a population of 42.8 million, which makes 21.2 deaths per 100000 of population.

Grim
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Old 08-27-2003, 08:22 AM
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As an adenddum to the description by Usram, I would like to add the obligatory backward baseball cap, but other than that a spot on description
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Old 08-27-2003, 08:38 AM
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Yes, "White Van Man" is a generic description of drivers of white commercial vehicles who act like complete asshats on the road. They usually sport more tattoos than brain cells and don't really give a shit about other road users because hey, it's a commercial vehicle and they're not paying for repairs.
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Old 08-27-2003, 09:30 AM
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Whatever happened to Sierra Man? Has he become Mondeo Man now?

I'd have to second the notion that UK drivers are extremely polite, especially when they spot a mainland license plate: they'll go out of their way to make sure you can merge safely, for example. I was suitably impressed when I was moving my then-girlfriend to London in a filled-to-the-brim left hand drive Peugeot: people flashed their lights to indicate I could merge (I could see nothing, other than the view outside the passenger window). I really needed and appreciated the help.

But even when I was driving a UK-registered RHD car through Scotland, the politeness didn't cease. UK drivers are generally very patient and courteous.

One. Giant. Exception.

London. Seriously, Londoners can mix with the best of Romans, Parisians and, oh hell why not, Amsterdammers when it comes to road rage. Then again, that's most likely a big city thing than a UK thing.

grimpixie, I'm going to have to strongly agree with your assessment of SA drivers. My WORD, they're insane!
I loved my holiday there, and I will be back in that wonderful country, but I've had more close calls in 2.5 weeks in RSA than in 10 years of driving in Holland.

Did the OP's immitation of UK chase show commentary remind anybody else of Bill Hicks' Hooligan Routine?
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Old 08-27-2003, 11:06 AM
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White Van Men read The Sun. 'nuff said.
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Old 08-27-2003, 12:06 PM
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I'm always amazed by the penalties they disclose were given to these UK drivers when they were apprehended.

One incident I recall in particular is a woman ramming another car out of the parking spot she felt entitled to. It was obvious she was enraged, and she must've caused severe damage to the other car, not to mention her own.

She received a traffic citation for this.
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:50 PM
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I'll just have to... err... [counts] third the comment that drivers in the UK are generally wonderfully polite, courteous, and so on. Actually, that's been my experience in much of Europe, though, as compared to back home.

I was just over in the UK and Ireland for most of the summer, and it was incredibly difficult readjusting on the drive back from the airport. I had to remind myself that drivers here in the great state of Florida have, for the most part, abandoned such useful concepts of "slower traffic keep right" and "pass on the left." Not to mention "let the poor guy get onto the freeway," and "red light means stop." *sigh*
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Old 08-27-2003, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stryfe
As an adenddum to the description by Usram, I would like to add the obligatory backward baseball cap, but other than that a spot on description
An addendum to your addendum: They also invariably seem to be clutching a mobile phone.

V
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Old 08-27-2003, 04:30 PM
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A few cliches I've seen on UK bad driver/police camera shows:

1) An old Mini packed with eight or ten passengers, usually immigrants from Eastern Europe or Asia. Bonus points if one of the passengers is a goat.

2) Someone from "The Continent" driving the wrong way down a motorway.

3) I'm too cool to say "Hi Opal!", so I won't.

4) A horse and buggy holding up traffic for miles.

5) After the end of a long, dangerous chase, the bobbies calmly approach the suspect, and gently lead to one of the police cars unhandcuffed. I can imagine the conversation ... "Excuse me, old chap, but we'd like to have a word with you. Would you like to share a spot of tea and some of Her Majesty's finest crumpets?"

6) A lorry, listing like a sinking ship, shedding building materials alll over the motorway.

7) The aforementioned "After leading police on a three hour chase through Wextfordhamptonshire-on-Trent, tbe driver recieved two points on his record, and a ten pound fine."
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Old 08-27-2003, 04:46 PM
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Creative_Munster Did you see this one a show?
Quote:
I'm always amazed by the penalties they disclose were given to these UK drivers when they were apprehended.

One incident I recall in particular is a woman ramming another car out of the parking spot she felt entitled to. It was obvious she was enraged, and she must've caused severe damage to the other car, not to mention her own.

She received a traffic citation for this.
In my personal experience, UK drivers are terrific, and I've always assumed the very high bar for licensing and the tough penalties for error had something to do with the quality of the drivers on the road.
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Old 08-27-2003, 05:43 PM
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Wow... something we're good at, apparently. Can Considerate Driving be made an Olympic sport?
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Old 08-27-2003, 05:58 PM
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i'm pleased but surprised to hear that we in the UK are considered considerate drivers. I'm sure any driver here can relate dozens of incidents of bad driving that they see every week. Of course I consider myself probably the best driver in the country (but don't we all).
Friends of mine have said that drivers in the US are much more patient, and more observant of lane discipline than drivers here.

V
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Old 08-27-2003, 06:45 PM
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My Dad was telling me about the time he drove an old ambulance when he was a scoutmaster and I can see why WVM is such an ass on the roads. Being able to see so far above the cars around you, and maybe having a bit more poke in the engine bay its easy to see how good habits can slip a bit. Especially if you're in a hurry too.
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Old 08-27-2003, 07:30 PM
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I have nothing to add, but wish to mention that if Wextfordhamptonshire- on-Trent existed, I would like to live there.
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Old 08-27-2003, 07:42 PM
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I'm surprised at the perceptions that US penalties are tougher.

I saw one of these British shows recently which had the odd US video in it here and there. One showed a trooper (I think in the South somewhere, but I disremember) pulling over a woman whose car was weaving all over the road:

Trooper: Howdy! Y' know why I pulled you over, ma'am?
Woman: No shhirrr..
Trooper: I noticed your vee-hickle was weaving considerably. Have you had anything to drink tonight?
Woman: No. Aah ain't (*hic*) touchshchshed a shinngle drop, Ossifer...
Trooper: Well, then. That's ok. You go drive safely now. Have a nice day.
Voice Over: I can't imagine a UK driver getting off that lightly...

The US (some states only) reliance on non-mechanical means of determining sobriety still amazes me. In Australia (and I assume the UK), the woman would have been breathalysed on the spot, been asked to switch off and secure her car, taken to the police station (possibly in handcuffs), breathalysed on a larger, more acurate, legally admissible breathalyser unit, charged (with a criminal offence, not an infringement) , fingerprinted, and a court hearing arranged. At minimum (if she wasn't much over the limit), she'd be fined A$500 - $1000, and disqualified from driving for three months. If she were very drunk (or it wasn't a first offence), the fine would be many thousands of dollars, she'd not be able to legally drive for a couple of years, and there would possibly be a custodial sentence.
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Old 08-27-2003, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kal
I have nothing to add, but wish to mention that if Wextfordhamptonshire- on-Trent existed, I would like to live there.
I've been there, it's a sh*thole.
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Old 08-28-2003, 03:58 AM
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This might help.
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Old 08-28-2003, 06:25 AM
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Ah, the wit and wisdom of Misters Fry and Laurie. God bless old Blighty!
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Old 08-28-2003, 09:21 AM
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I saw one of these British shows recently which had the odd US video in it here and there. One showed a trooper (I think in the South somewhere, but I disremember) pulling over a woman whose car was weaving all over the road
You've obviously never been to North Carolina then. 1% of the population here gets a DUI annually - even the little old lady driving to church on Sunday is a potential DWI here.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:30 AM
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UK's written test info - http://www.dsa.gov.uk/theory/factsheet-oct02.htm

The lax standards in Washington state - http://www.dol.wa.gov/ds/faq.htm
(Picked because I think they have the worst drivers in the US!)

And then there's Florida - http://www.mrknowitall.com/jokes/drivingtestanswers.htm
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Old 08-29-2003, 09:14 AM
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Re: White van man, or are UK drivers that bad?


Quote:
Originally posted by elmwood

Van drivers don't have a reputation as being particularly aggressive in the US, but in the UK they are known as notorious motoring maniacs.

I've noticed vans in the U.S. that are more aggressive than a lot of people, but I think in the U.S., the aggressive people buy SUVs and use them to bully other drivers. Of course, I never let them bully me.

I don't know much about UK drivers.
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Old 08-29-2003, 10:11 AM
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One can only hope that WVM evolves into SILVER van man!

Typically mid 30’s to mid 40’s, drives well, keeps to the left, does not jump the lights, or drive up your arse, and stops at pedestrian crossings!

Take note next time your driving, its true! Silver van man is the epitome of good driving!

(no - I don’t drive a van of any colour!)
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Old 08-29-2003, 10:18 AM
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Must be true - I used to drive a silver van myself.
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Old 08-29-2003, 10:40 AM
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The point about white van man is he spends all day in the van and he doesn't own or pay the bills on the van.

So he's plenty of time to develop his invincibility delusion and he doesn't really care if he runs the van into you or not.
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