Van drivers get a bad rep on the roads. Other cars have no patience for weighty vehicles. Anyone driving them is considered a menace on the roads. This is part of the reason the ‘white van’ stereotype is prevalent wherever you go. Cars and vans just don’t get along, each vying to be the alfa.
But, is there truth to the stereotype? It all depends on who you ask. Cars would say that van drivers are entitled and pushy. But, van drivers would argue that they only act that way because cars force them to. It’s an ongoing feud, and it’s unlikely to come to an end anytime soon. Whatever way you look at it, a truck accident lawyer can testify that the larger vehicles on the road pose a threat. For the most part, this is to do with nothing more than size. Driving a large van isn’t easy, and it’s not always possible to see what’s happening. Mix that with the impatience both driver types express towards each other, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Mental health awareness week this year saw Mercedes-Benz UK making an effort to breach the gap. Their studies among van drivers revealed that almost one in five describe their mental health as poor. While increased workload and time constraints were the main causes, the on road bickering doesn’t help the situation. So, what can we learn from the findings?
For one, major issues between vans and cars are misunderstandings. Drivers in smaller vehicles fail to take into account that van drivers are doing a job. Their pay and employment depend upon them reaching destinations at a set time. And, with ever-increasing time-restraints, they have to do so at much faster speeds. That van driver who cut you off might not have been pushing you about because he was bigger. He may just have had a lot of work on his plate that day!
And, though less publicised, being hated on the roads can’t help our van driver’s state of minds. Many reported feeling isolated, and it’s no surprise when you’re working alone and having to cope with abuse from other cars on a daily basis. In an ideal world, we would get van and car drivers together to hug it out and understand each other a bit better. But, let’s be honest; it’s never going to happen. Even if it did, nothing would be gained but a few black eyes.
So, what can we do to counter the problem? Surveys like the one stated above are helpful for the cause. Other than that, though, not a lot can be done. And, even studies are only useful for people who see them. Aside from that, the biggest breakthrough is the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill which started in the UK. The bill, mentioned in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, means that driverless trucks could be covered by insurance. In the US, those same driverless vans are being pioneered by Uber and its partner, Otto. Last year, Otto ran its first automated truck journey, delivering beer in Colorado. Co-founder, Lior Ron, said at the time, “The technology is ready to start doing these commercial pilots. Over the next couple of years, we’ll continue to develop the tech, so it’s actually ready to encounter every condition on the road.”
Removing van drivers altogether may seem like a drastic step, but it’s a sure way to solve the issues. And, if drivers thought vans were pushy before, things are sure to get a lot worse when they’re driving themselves. The chances are, we’ll be crying for the reinstatement of van drivers in no
time. Though, even that probably wouldn’t stop the arguing for long. Companies are taking the angle that these automated vans will be safer. And, while no one can deny that they will end issues like drink driving, it’s hard to believe. After all, a lot of what happens on the road is a matter of perception. You can fit vans with all the sensors you like, but they won’t have the speed and precision of a real driver. Even if the vans themselves are safe, it’s hard to see how they could maneuver other dangerous drivers if there were need to.
Of course, there’s a lot of opposition to the idea, and so far, small progress has been made. The Teamster Union in the US has shown concern about the impact on jobs. Yet, the American Truckers Association claimed it was struggling to find enough drivers as it was.
The governments involved are keen to make us believe that these additions will lighten the load and make our roads safer. As hard as it is to believe, we’ll have to withhold judgment until further progress has been achieved. For now, though, the threat of job loss is doing nothing to help any mental issues van drivers struggle with. And, increased worry could result in more on-road misunderstandings. It really is a vicious cycle. To ensure things keep ticking along, we’ve written down some points that both car and van drivers should take into account.
Don’t assume that every van driver is trying to out-drive you.
Do take into account the time constraints they’re dealing with.
Do make an effort to be as polite to vans as you would to other cars.
Don’t shout abuse. You aren’t helping anybody.
Don’t cut cars off. You may be in a rush, but manners make all the difference.
Do try to drive sensibly at all times.
Don’t take your stresses out on other drivers.
Do make sure to check your mirrors at all times. Remember, you need to know what’s happening behind you.
If only we could all follow these steps, our roads could be much happier places. If it helps, return to this list every time you feel you’re about to lose your temper. As well as helping our van drivers, avoiding road-rage will keep your blood-pressure down. It’s a win on both sides.