To the best of our knowledge not much effort or research has been put into segmenting road users by driving personality type. Nevertheless, all of us recognize that there are certain types of road users who demonstrate clusters of objectionable behaviour that allows us to identify them after several seconds of observing their cars and driving style.
We’ve therefore put together this guide to the seven basic driver archetypes as a first step towards understanding the psychology of badly behaved road users.
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1. The Bogan
It is tempting to define the bogan driver by the car they drive, but in reality it’s more about how they dress up their vehicle. ‘Standard factory issue’ is an offensive term to the bogan car owner. As a result, there will usually be considerable effort put into customizing a vehicle, to the point where the casual observer is left in absolutely no doubt that the car in question is the property of a bogan.
The rules here are not hard and fast. A few bumper stickers are obligatory, and can even be used to keep some parts of the car attached to the chassis. A set of custom rims is typically fitted to the vehicle, and having each wheel rim come from the same set is entirely optional. The car will typically feature at least one unnecessary fin or spoiler.
In motion, the bogan is identified by the fact that you can hear what’s playing on their car playlist from a distance of at least once city block. Other indicators are a tendency to interpret yellow lights as an invitation to accelerate to beat the red light, a complete incomprehension of following distance and a desire to drag race you from stop streets.
2. The professional German luxury car owner
The opposite side of the spectrum to the bogan is inhabited by the owners of luxury vehicles, most typically those fitted with the BMW, Mercedes and Audi badges. These individuals do not simple buy these vehicles, they use them to transcend the rules and norms of civilized road behaviour, safe in the knowledge that cutting edge safety features lie between them and a collision with a plebeian.
The full time luxury car owner is easily identified by the fact that they expect all other road users to not only make way for them, but to spontaneously develop telepathic skills to do so. Using turn signals is frowned upon. So is tolerating the presence of another car in front of them, at any speed, in any lane.
Full time luxury car owners are competitors in an unofficial life-long street race with other luxury car owners. This means that driving any kind of luxury vehicle and drawing parallel to another luxury vehicle is considered a severe provocation. The result of this scenario is typically a race, irrespective of location and traffic or road conditions, with the winner achieving absolutely nothing at all.
3. The overly careful driver
Careful, smart driving is an admirable trait in anyone who gets in a car. But as is the case with most things in life, when carried to an extreme it can achieve the opposite result to what was intended. In other words the overly careful driver can become a significant hazard to other road users.
These individuals are most easily identified by their location in their own vehicle, which is typically about a foot closer to the steering wheel than is strictly necessary. In fact, a backrest is redundant for the average overly careful driver, as they will crawl along hunched over their steering wheels eyes fixed unflinchingly on the road ahead of them.
The primary risk posed by the overly careful driver is their low speed. While observing the posted speed limit is critical to smart driving, so is avoiding becoming the equivalent of a stationary object parked in the middle of a public road. The overly careful driver has a tendency to pop up in front of you when you least expect it, forcing you to brake hard and risk a collision from a serial tailgater.
4. The serial tailgater
The serial tailgater is often an excellent driver in all respects but one, they demonstrate an almost religious faith in the performance of their vehicle’s brakes as well as their personal ability to transcend the laws of physics. The serial tailgater believes that cars stop instantly when brakes are applied, and that skidding, wheel locking and stopping distances are myths.
The serial tailgater is usually identified in your rear view mirror, where they will be lurking at such close proximity to you that you won’t be able to see the radiator grille on their vehicle. This has the effect of making you feel like you are driving too slowly, even if you simply attempting to exit a parking lot at your local mall. Because of their lack of comprehension of the significant distances vehicles require to come to a complete stop, serial tailgaters also have a tendency to cut into any lane where other drivers have the temerity to attempt to establish a sane following distance. This effectively converts the driver behind them into a tailgater while also putting the car in front of the tailgater at risk.
5. The distracted driver
The distracted driver can be hard to identify as they can manifest a variety of risky driving behaviours over one trip. Their driving has an edge of bogan to it, before suddenly appearing to morph into an overly careful driver, before convincing you that they are in fact drunk or functioning on an hour of sleep, before parking their vehicle in the rear of the vehicle in front of them.
The true source of these confusing and contradictory behaviours is typically held in their hand. While a distracted driver would never do anything as outrageous as attempting to read the paper while driving to work in the morning, they’re quite happy to digest the day’s news and gossip while driving, provided it is delivered to them via Facebook, Twitter or text.
The distracted driver suffers from such high levels of FOMO (fear of missing out) that they would rather risk severely injuring themselves and other road users than miss out on finding out what their best friend’s cousin had for brunch on Sunday. And while they’re finding that out they’ll typically reduce their speed, glance at the road ever couple of seconds, and wander in and out of your lane.
6. The sociopath
To the sociopath, the rules of the road are annoying, arbitrary guidelines that have the potential to add entire minutes onto each trip they take.
These individuals can drive any model of vehicle, and may demonstrate exemplary driving skills right up until the moment that they encounter a traffic condition that obstructs them in any way.
Particularly when this obstruction requires them to wait in a queue, the sociopath will reveal their true nature and turn the decency of other road users against them.
Typically this will involve ignoring any queues altogether and simply driving their vehicle to the front of the queue. This may require a little off-road driving, possibly venturing into an oncoming lane of traffic, or crossing a barrier line while obstructing traffic in their own lane. The important thing is that they are able to bypass the weak-minded individuals patiently obeying the rules of the road.
7. The parking lot monster
The parking lot monster’s primary agenda behind the wheel is to damage your car just badly enough that it requires expensive repairs, but not so badly that these repairs are covered by insurance. They are the slow motion equivalent of an Australian hail storm, creating small dents and dings over decades until your vehicle can appear as if it was used for target practice at a driving range.
It is impossible to identify a parking lot monster because they will have exited the scene long before you discover their handiwork on your vehicle. It might be a smear of black paint across your passenger door, a dimple in your fender or an inexplicable scratch on your chassis. At best you may find an apologetic, but anonymous, note pinned beneath your windscreen wiper.
Like vampires, parking lot monsters are capable of transforming their innocent victims into creatures like themselves. Their standard method here is to park their vehicle no further than 20cm away from yours. This leaves you with a choice between opening your car door into theirs while attempting to shoehorn yourself into your seat, or entering your car via the passenger door on the opposite side.
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