Inside Voice, Nerdery, Vancouvering

An Inventory of the Most Dangerous Cars and Drivers in Vancouver

For the past decade I’ve been driving in Vancouver. During that time I’ve accumulated a goodly amount of knowledge about the drivers and cars on our city’s streets, and which ones that you need to watch the fuck out for.

As a public service, I now present my personal observations in a collection available for peer review and scrutiny: an inventory of the most dangerous cars and drivers in Vancouver.

The Most Dangerous Cars

It goes without saying that a few types of cars are dangerous. Cabs, of course, have no karma. Avoid them because you know they will screw you six ways to Sunday.

Models and Colours

  • Toyota Corolla — champagne is worst, followed by white.
  • Toyota Camry — like Jim Morrison’s lyrics: wandering, wandering. Again, light colours are worst.
  • Minivans — the zepplins of the road these cocoons of distractions and cup holders make side and rear visibility difficult. Their blind spot is everywhere not directly in front of them. Stay back or pass quickly.
  • Honda Civic — sometimes dangerous, sometimes not. Look for additional telltale signs, listed below.

The Most Dangerous Drivers

  • Cell phone users
  • Parents with babies and / or pets in the car
  • Those who rely on back-window mirrors or rear-view cameras
  • Those with beepers that signal when they back up (nanny sirens)
  • Hat wearers of a certain vintage
  • Those who refuse to use the indicators
  • Lazy turners who cut corners short
  • Anyone looking for a parking spot

Additional Signs of Danger

Sometimes cars that don’t match the make or colour of the ones above or without the driver attributes above can still be a hazard to your health on the road.

But like poisonous snakes and berries, telltale signs reveal their danger.

I’ve collected a list of some of the most obvious signs to watch for below, from roughly most dangerous and most obvious, to less dangerous and less obvious. If you have additions, please add them. This is public service in action.

  • Student Driver cars — need I say more?
  • Learner and New driver stickers — as above but slightly less deadly.
  • The rear-window tissue box — always foretells erratic turns.
  • Dash-mounted cartoon characters — the distraction of all that cuteness bobbing on springs must be why they’re wandering lanes.
  • Out-of-province license plates — particularly from Alberta. They’re gawking, lost and looking for parking for the steam clock or the sign to Stanley Park.
  • Car co-op and car share programs like Zipcar — these folks don’t drive much and don’t own that car they’re driving.
  • Rental cars — see both items above. Rental cars combine at least one of those elements.
  • Loaner cars from auto body shops — proof they’ve already cracked up a car.

Now please, add your findings so we can make the world a better place.

Standard
Inside Voice

Toyota Pruis: Greenwashing a Guilty Conscience with a Crap Car

So let’s get this out of the way right away: I have no f-sharp love for the Toyota Pruis.

I hate the car and I hate what it stands for.

The car? Here’s a credible Toyota Pruis review:

Nothing about the insides feels familiar in the traditional sense, unless you are a prior Prius person. The new interior is swathed in low rent plastics which emit nauseating vapors, leather seats (if so equipped) that made me long for Naugahyde and gauges which were not only situated well out of sightlines, but rendered in a primitive digital manner which were indecipherable even up close. Of course I could always tell how slowly I was driving from the desperate looks on the faces of the drivers eager to get past me.

The 2010 Prius’ ergonomics were designed for only two kinds of creatures: those who like to sit five inches back from the front windshield and orangutans. Everyone else will find that the steering wheel, adjustable now for tilt and reach, is still too far away for a proper seat position. There is a nice new electric lumbar support in the seats, which are otherwise unsupportive and ill-shaped.

The driving experience was engineered by faeries. There is an Unbelievable Lightness of Steering, flagrant disregard for handling and a general sense that you are not in a car at all but some anti-gravity device which yaws and rolls without regard for normal physics. I would rather visit my dentist than drive the Prius again—at least he gives me laughing gas.

And what the car stands for? 3 reasons:

  1. Because its environmental credibility is a lie.

    It maintains the myth that if people make the right purchase decisions we can buy our way out of our pollution problems. This is perfect horseshit. A new Prius is incredibly costly to the environment.

    Want to help out the planet? Keep your existing car and keep it in great working condition. Or buy a used one. That sunk cost is gone so use it to its max.

    Because the Prius will be old one day too, and then what?

  2. Because in North America it obscures the bigger problem: that our living arrangements are the main reason we’re polluters.

    If you want to create less pollution, live in a place that doesn’t require you to create pollution for all your travel. Screw the suburbs.

    I have little sympathy for commuters looking to assuage the guilt of their housing decisions with a new toy.

  3. Because of the way it’s sold to consumers as a decision they make to love people. Who could be against that?

    I am. Imagine a Venn diagram with 3 circles: narcissism, guilt and disposable income. The ad above (the making of the big Prius ad) hits straight at the heart of the overlap of those 3.

    And since I think the product benefits are a lie it makes the selling of those product benefits, dressed up with a children’s song and costumes, more reprehensible.

And that’s all after I had a day to consider my reaction to the new Prius.

Standard