This post is possibly more of an overgrown comment, but given my recent word-count-challenged postings, it is probably more original content than you’ve seen for a while!
Eurasian Sensation posted “Asian Drivers Are Safer. Seriously?” recently, and I’d studiously written an essay-length comment, only to be thwarted by e-gremlins when putting it up.
So, here it is, remixed. Sorta.
I’m a bit like Chris and believe in the stereotype to some extent, too. I know Asian drivers (who’ve been in Oz for decades) who have driven down the wrong side of main roads and the wrong way down one-way streets. One of them prides himself on never having been to ‘blame’ in an accident, but we know how he drives and it’s with a very, very hesitant manner. So, technically, he may not have run into anyone, but the number of times he’s been run into because he’s always second-guessing a merge or turn…well… When I think about this, though, it’s probably that I happen to have more Asians in my family/friend networks, but the percentage of crappy drivers among them may well be a standard one.
Seeing the results of that study surprised me initially, then I realised that the ‘Asians drive more safely’ thing could also be the source of knee-jerk ‘bad Asian driver’ comments because others consider them too slow or cautious.
I had an excruciating experience with ‘bad Asian driving’ a couple of years ago: I was on my way into Sydney’s CBD in a crowded mini-bus from the airport with a bunch of strangers, and someone cut in front of us. The driver made a light-hearted (!), disparaging comment about ‘Asian drivers’ and how all of them were hopeless, and a murmur of assent swept through the bus, with a few people chiming in with their own anecdotes. A couple of people glanced at me, but not with any sheepishness. Being the only person of colour on that bus was so awkward. What to do? Have a tanty about their stereotyping (when I do it myself, on occasion)? Mount a half-hearted defence of Asian drivers? Tell the driver he was pretty damn rubbish, too (and risk being turfed out on Botany Road)? In the end, I did nothing. Maybe they assumed I didn’t understand English…
Anyway, I’m the last person who should talk about stereotyping drivers. My road-worthy discriminations? Let me show you them!
My auto-abuse is often directed at:
- Middle manager types in fleet Commodores and Falcons. I was going to qualify this dot-point with “aggressive” but decided that that would be tautologous.
- Anyone in a later model Volvo. I usually have no issue with older models and their drivers.
- Young guys with baseball caps turned backwards. More demerits if it’s a P-plated car. Even more demerits if it’s a hotted up compact car.
- Anyone who does a U-turn on Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick.
- Cars on steroids (yes, Toorak Tractors, I mean you; I also automatically assume that anyone driving a Hummer is an idiot who is over-compensating).