BMW drivers get a lot of bad rap for their driving. It’s true. “Aggressive” “violent” and “intense” are some of the nicer adjectives used to describe us.
Although I do agree that with a vehicle such as a BMW and the performance that it offers its driver, it’s sometimes hard to keep that foot idle. It’s hard not to enjoy the smooth yet powerful delivery of acceleration as we get onto that freeway on-ramp, not to partake in some spirited driving down that back road, resist that urge to enter that gap in traffic that we’ve spotted when we so surely know the acceleration, cornering and braking that our BMW is so capable of serving up would more than allow us to do so. Ok, so the last one is pretty annoying. Cutting people off is never cool.
Again, I do see the argument. I really do. But I believe that cars are getting smarter and drivers are getting dumber. There, I said it. My reasons and my explanations can be found below.
Over the years, but also thanks to an increase in what seems to be a massive explosion of on-road incompetence, I’ve started to keep a mental track record of some of the worst offenders out there. This isn’t a precise argument and it’s most definitely open to interpretation. Some fun can be had though whilst pointing out observations that I’m sure we’ve all noticed throughout the years, but a serious point will be made, I promise. I still don’t believe that BMW drivers are the most aggressive bunch out there, but let’s explore, shall we?
Certain cars attract certain types of drivers. We know this the same way we know that food attracts chefs and brand new shoes attract the dirty sole of someone who likes to step on other people’s brand new shoes. We also know that some drivers and their cars attract certain types of accidents. We know this because 9/10 Toyota Corollas you see on the road will have some kind of fist sized dent in either its front or rear bumper that looks to have been made by a very angry yet awkwardly placed fire hydrant or parking meter. Ask the driver of how it got there and they will most likely answer with “no idea” or “it came outta nowhere, I swear.” And to keep it in the Toyota family, Camry drivers and their cars keep very busy either rear-ending someone, or getting rear-ended themselves. Or both, at the same time. I have nothing against Toyota or Toyota drivers, it’s just what I personally have been noticing. Feel free to substitute anything I remark here with your own personal observations. However, one last Toyota remark is in due order: ever notice how the Prius drivers honestly believe their rate of acceleration matches that of IC vehicles? On paper, an electric car would have a better torque output since it’s available instantly. In practice, it’s a different story.
Some cars are just driven by delusional people who believe physics, the rules of the road and general common sense don’t apply to them. This may be spurred on by their over-confidence in their vehicle, their driving skill or their assurance and over-trust in the technology and digital safety nets found in their car which they’ve put their entire trust in to save them should they push too far. Or maybe it’s a combination of everything I’ve just described. Frequent offenders seem to be Nissan Altima/Maxima drivers, Hummer H2/H3 drivers and the ever-zoom-zooming Mazda drivers. Please, if you’re reading this and happen to own any of the vehicles mentioned here, keep in mind that your Nissan isn’t a GT-R (unless it is, in which case please exercise caution), your Hummer does not grant you any on-road privileges that none of us have and your Mazda isn’t a race car with the world acting as your personal race track.
Now is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the smaller a driver’s car is, the more he/she believes that they are not only capable but also eligible and entitled to cut you off? Apparently, if you drive a Fiat 500, Mazda 2, Mini, Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan Leaf or any other small car, any gap, no matter how small it may be, triggers a signal in that respective driver’s head that says “it shall fit, go for the gap, you’re the next Senna” and sure enough, bam. Charlize Theron in her original Rover produced Mini from the 2003 movie “The Italian Job” has nothing on these drivers. With this type of driving mentality Smart car drivers are free to go about doing whatever they’d like on our roads and highways. This is not a rant mind you, it’s what we face every day on our public roads. I’m just pointing it out.
On to the next automotive offender: the chronic brake pedal pusher. You know, the driver who happens to be in front of you either on the highway or in town, who for one reason or another, decides to periodically tap their brakes? At times you might even gently glide to the left of your lane to see if there is indeed some other driver in front of the brake tapper that’s causing this incessant sea of red to shine before your eyes that automatically triggers your brake foot reaction. What is it that you usually see? Either there is indeed someone in front of them who seems to be driving normally and yet the car that keeps tapping their brakes is constantly following too close, then brakes, then re-accelerates too close only to brake once more. The second possible outcome is that there is no one in front, but the driver is doing something much more important behind the wheel that supersedes driving and since their attention is directed towards something else other than operating a 2 ton vehicle, tapping the brakes periodically is their way of ensuring that nothing goes wrong. Most of these drivers have no clue what so ever of the world that surrounds them, nor the cars that inhabit their immediate vicinity. Once you’ve assessed the situation and have concluded that this person in front of you is doing nothing but make your commute more difficult for no apparent reason, you decide to pass them. As you pass, you might even decided to throw a glance at the driver as you are pulling away from them only to find out that they are either texting, eating, applying make-up, putting on a tie, shaving or even checking their email on their steering wheel mounted iPad. These are not jokes, they are real life occurrences that I personally have witnessed during my morning commute.
Let us move on.
Question: Have you ever been involved in an accident where you’ve been rear-ended? Or worse: have you ever been involved in an accident where you’ve been rear-ended but saw it coming before it actually happened because you were checking your rear-view mirror and saw that the person that was speeding towards you wasn’t paying attention to the on-goings in front of him/her? If you’ve answered yes, then I know and feel your pain! Your automobile, even better, your life should not be at the mercy of a negligent driver who believes that updating their status on Facebook or sending out a witty tweet is more important than the safety and security of those around them. Countless young people, old people and everyone in between die each year because of the negligence of others. At the age of 15 my driving instructor parted some golden words of wisdom, and I’m sure we’ve all heard them before, and that is that driving truly is a privilege. We as drivers have to realize that when we step into our vehicles, regardless of where they hail from or what badge is adorned on the hood, we take upon ourselves a responsibility. In my previous article, Distracted Driving And BMW, I enumerate several technologies that BMW offers which increase the safety and security of both driver and passenger as well as pedestrians, but I emphasized on the importance of using ones common sense. All of the technology on tap, your Nurburgring-tuned suspension, your high-performance wheels and tires or 6 piston Brembo brake calipers still need that key centerpiece in order to be of any use at all. You.
The next vehicular faux pas we should touch upon is, you guessed it, the bumper riders! Depth perception is a must when threading a needle, crossing the street and yes, driving even. However, for the people that like to get in close behind you, it seems to be a sport of sorts. I believe the rules are “let me see how close I can get my front bumper to the rear bumper of the car in front of me before they catch on and notice resulting in them checking their rear view mirror every 3 seconds…” I have a theory. Either these bumper riders are trying to hyper mileage by trying to reduce the drag coefficient on their car and draft in behind your car, or, they believe that if they constantly “push” you from behind, you’ll either speed up or completely get out of the way. It’s most likely the second bit, and unfortunately for them most of us that are doing the speed limit, maybe even 5 over don’t go any faster nor get out of the way. What usually happens is that we get angry that we are being followed too close, our attention is no longer 100% focused on what is happening in front and alongside our car but is now preoccupied and concerned with what’s going on at the rear. This continues until either the front driver “brake checks” the rear driver, or the rear driver finds a gap and roars on by, usually shooting looks of steel as they drive past, none of which are conducive to driving. Why? Why go through all of that and invoke road rage when all you’re doing is promoting a lose-lose outcome? Leave that 3 second gap, you’ll be glad you did when something unexpected happens in front and evasive maneuvers are necessary.
Fellow drivers, regardless of what car you drive, regardless of what brand you favor, if you or someone you know has either been on the receiving end of such anger inducing actions or are indeed the anger inducer, please, for the sake of all that is good and mechanical in this world, heed the suggestions below. Not only will all of our daily lives and commutes be better thanks to the decrease in high blood pressure and road rage, but our cars will also be in better shape and more importantly, our roads will be a safer place.
Below are some tips that are sure to make you, your car and other fellow drivers not only happier but safer as well. Being a good driver isn’t all that hard. In fact, it’s a lot like being in, and maintaining a good relationship. Conditions and circumstances are always changing but there are 3 things that remain true for both examples and they are:
- Anticipate. You’ve heard it before but scanning the road ahead and keeping track of what is happening not only in front of your car, but also the car in front of the one before you will reduce the need of you having to stand on your brakes in order to avoid an accident should something ever occur. When someone darts into a gap, you can be sure that they will hit their brakes thanks to their entering speed. Anticipating this and slowing down ahead of time will keep you from slamming on your brakes, which in turn will not surprise anyone behind you minimizing the chances of you getting rear-ended. Imagine how much more efficient our daily drives would be, the improved MPG we would get and the reduced brake wear we would incur if only we would all be a bit more perceptive. But going a step further, be prepared and anticipate poorly tied down furniture in the back of a truck that decides to have a go at the miracle that is flight, dump trucks chucking rocks at your windshield and drivers that realize at the last moment the exit off ramp they just passed was theirs and then decide to do a violent and unexpected insta-right because heavens knows there will never be another off ramp for them to exit. Ever. This isn’t Germany. Unless you’re reading this in Germany, in which case it is. Long live the autobahn meine Freunde!
- Communication. Should you see someone wanting to merge, try not to block them. The amount of energy it takes you to close that gap, then brake in order to avoid hitting the car in front and then to match traffic flow speed is far greater and requires more energy than simply easing off the gas a bit and allowing the car to merge. Remember that at some point, someone let you merge, and passing along this road camaraderie goes a long way into ensuring your tempers remain low and your driving pleasure high. On the other side of the coin, remember, most automotive manufacturers do not offer the megaphone loudspeaker option on their vehicles (unless you’re an ice cream truck driver or a police officer), be sure to do your best and communicate your driving intentions clearly and early to fellow drivers. This means utilizing the conveniently placed turn signal indicator stalk situated right behind your steering wheel, on the left side, easily accessible and within your reach. Not only is it the law, it’s also much appreciated by other fellow drivers when they know exactly what it is that you’d like to do instead of waiting endlessly for you at a T intersection thinking you’re trajectory will continue to be straight, and then at the last moment you turn right, rendering our wait for you completely pointless and hence adding more wasted time and nerves to our daily commute.
- Attention. The more attention you accord to driving, the more things you’ll pick up on, the more prepared you’ll be for whatever might come your way. When driving, please make the act of driving and all that it involves your number 1 priority. Your phone shouldn’t be anywhere near your hands. You’ll find that all of the above suggestions are much easier to follow when all of your attention is devoted to driving.
All joking aside though, as a driver, I love driving, as I’m sure many of you do as well. Let us be more mindful while sharing the roadway with other drivers. Let’s make the act of driving pure again and return back to the root of it all. As a tech junkie, I believe technology is good. It makes our lives easier and offers solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. As a BMW owner and fan, I do my best to exercise safe driving while enjoying the benefits and experiences of owning a BMW has to offer. With that said, let’s not forget that ultimately without our attention, input and control our cars have the ability of becoming very large mobile objects capable of annoying, enraging and even endangering us, our passengers and other drivers.
Hopefully, the next time someone remembers to use their turn signal, you’ll allow them to merge. And hopefully, should you find yourself in the same position, you’ll be granted the same road manners in return.