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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 16:42 
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According to the radio, an academic, first name Ian, from Bath, did a recent study on how motorists behave in regard to urban cyclists as a function of whether they're men or women, or whether they're wearing helmets or not.

He seems to have discovered that when he wears a wig, motorists give him wider corridor in which to cycle. When he wears a helmet, they get closer because he seems to be a serious cyclist.

It would be strange to think that a cyclist is more at danger by wearing a helmet than by not doing so.

That made me start to think about how people perceive road users by the cars they drive.

I drive a Merc A class, which I've had since it was new in 1999. I polish it and it looks perfect. It has an Irish number plate (I live in Ireland) which shows that it's a well-kept oldish car (99 W 671). When I'm coming out of a 37mph zone to a 62 mph zone, vehicles try to overtake me only to reach a steady state speed that's lower than my own, requiring me to attempt to overtake them safely if I wish to maintain my desired safe speed.

So do people think that I'm some doddery confused person that will never drive at a proper speed... or am I reading too much into it?

Well, my point is: Are there car types that are safer based on how others behave in their vicinity? Has anyone any ideas on this however crazy they may be?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 17:31 
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I_try_to_drive_safely wrote:
So do people think that I'm some doddery confused person that will never drive at a proper speed...?


I have to admit that for certain models of car I will excpect a certain behaviour, though I will then wait for my suspicions to be confirmed before doing anything which may be rash if I am wrong.

And ..... yes.

Sorry, but the A class seems to attract people who have no interest in driving at all. Possibly because those with an interest in motoring have been put off by the early scare stories.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 20:01 
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I'm starting to get a very negative preconceived opinion about anyone in a new shape Mini.....


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 03:03 
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We're not big fans of Dr Ian Walker's work. It's been discussed a couple of times around here. 'Junk science' would seem to be a fair description.

I hate to stereotype, but battered vehicles seem to be a clear warning sign.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 18:23 
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Ultimately it is all about stereotypes. You can argue it as either prejudice or probability but I prefer the probability argument.

I first noticed it after my second car was written off. It was a bright red G reg 3 door Mk4 Ford Escort 1.6 Sport. I replaced it with a blue G reg 5 door Mk4 Ford Escort 1.6 Ghia that I got for £100 as a non-runner, and swapped in most of the running gear from the last car.

So, same driver, essentially the same car, just not bright red, and I noticed I was significantly more likely to get let out of junctions, less likely to get people trying to goad me into racing, and less likely to get abuse when I did something stupid.

I later had an opportunity to drive someone's old BMW 316i and found that I got treated even worse than in the red Escort!

That effect has interested me for a long time now, but I guess it ultimately comes down to probability. If the car in front is a Citroen Saxo with neons, a stupid spoiler and all the other stuff that can be seen on barryboys.co.uk then it's a reasonable assumption that the driver will drive like a twat. If it's a 10 year old Volvo 240 estate with one brake light and an alsation in the boot then it's probably a good idea to overtake it if you know that the road is about to speed up but has no further overtaking opportunities.

So to take the OPs case. The A class. The vast majority of A Classes I see being driven are used basically as shopping trolleys, usually by women in their 40s with a little too much make up, being driven badly around town and too slowly out in the countryside. This is the stereotype, it is also describes the most probable driving behaviour to be expected upon encountering an A class.

Is it unreasonable to make a decision based on the most probable outcome, even though you know damn well that everyone is an individual and have no evidence as to how this particular A class is going to be driven.

Who knows? We are told that anticipation is better than reaction, however.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:31 
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I_try_to_drive_safely wrote:
I drive a Merc A class, which I've had since it was new in 1999. I polish it and it looks perfect. It has an Irish number plate (I live in Ireland) which shows that it's a well-kept oldish car (99 W 671). When I'm coming out of a 37mph zone to a 62 mph zone, vehicles try to overtake me only to reach a steady state speed that's lower than my own, requiring me to attempt to overtake them safely if I wish to maintain my desired safe speed.


About a year ago my mate had a Reliant Scimitar GTE.


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It was a V6 8-) and it clearly was old.

I remember once we where leaving a :40: and driving into a :nsl:
behind us was a fiat punto. He clear thought this old car was going to be too slow for his when in the NSL. So he over took :roll: what made me smile was that after he finshed his over take my mate over took him with little effort, and they dissappered into the distance :twisted:.

I think poeple treat different cars differently.
My girlfriend has a little corsa, when she is on the motorway she finds other divers try to bully her. (eg she will be doing ~ 80 in L3 and some car will drive right up to her and try to force her along.)

However I drive an alfa, and on motorways I genarally drive slower than her. I do not find myself in smilar situations.When I have driven her car I have found people treat me differently.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:02 
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What about the related question: What's the effect on our own driving of the car we drive?

I've been trying to answer the question myself, and I'm actually finding it quite hard.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:12 
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Related to Paul's point about the car affecting driving, is the "safe speed" in any given situation related (among many other things) to the capabilities of the vehicle? If so, then the car is bound to affect our own driving characteristics.

How much weighting does the capability of the vehicle have in the overall safe speed calaculation?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:51 
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malcolmw wrote:
How much weighting does the capability of the vehicle have in the overall safe speed calaculation?


There's quite a big difference driving my campervan because the desire is to reduce planned braking effort in order not to 'stir' the inevitable clutter. I'd say planned braking is around half the g force that I'd feel happy with in a reasonable car. - say 0.2g instread of 0.4g; something like that.

And then there's a general 'dynamic ability' thing. The campervan is 'lumbering' and it has to be allowed for. And finally the engine isn't big enough or powerful enough to reach max safe speed in many out of town situations.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 13:30 
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Where is this thread leading?

bmw evil, beetle good?

The civil engineering household currently has three vehicles, a TT a polo and a 407 estate. I drive the same in all of them.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 13:57 
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civil engineer wrote:
The civil engineering household currently has three vehicles, a TT a polo and a 407 estate. I drive the same in all of them.


I can't quite beleve this. Would you really, for example, perform the same overtaking manoevre in all 3 cars? When you say you drive them all the same, do you mean with the same degree of regard to safety?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 14:57 
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ok fair point i suppose I'm talking attitude whereas you are talking behaviour.

What I mean to say is that my 'approach' to driving, my attitude if you like doesn't alter. My behaviour will be modifed to suit the characteristics of the vehicles.

I don't become a flash speed demon in the TT any more than I suddenly get all tweed and dogs in the estate. but I have to recognise that the estate doesn't brake as well as the TT and there are times when I would overtake in the TT but not in the polo.

As for whether other people's perception of me changes when I'm driving a different vehicle and if it does, does than have an impact on the safety of the encounter.........I would yes probably yes to the former but no to the latter. I will make some subconcious assumptions about people by what they are driving but my risk assessment is based largely on how they are driving.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 09:45 
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I think its about preconceptions. Your average muppet won't take the time to anylise someone's driving style, they will just look at the car and ASSUME that the driver will react in a certain way.

I've noticed first hand that different cars get different responses from other motorists...

For instance, in my old car, a 1.8l petrol mk3 golf I would generally be tailgated / 'pushed along' less than I do in my 1.8l deisel Rover. Both cars have similar performance and I don't drive any different in the Rover than I did in the Golf. I think people see an old shape, slightly tatty 400 series Rover and assume that its driven by some old duffer that they MUST overtake no matter what. I've seen some very surprised faces when I've booted it from lights and left people standing for example.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:29 
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Another twist on this thread is the perception of males to females driving nice cars.

Mrs civil engineer becomes very aware of male drivers trying to race her or generally behave like w*nkers when she's driving the TT or her dad's merc.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 22:10 
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To quote Jeremy Clarkson:

"You never see a badly driven Saab"

"Why do Saab drivers have that irritating smile"


It's because nice people drive Saabs I'm not implying that nice people don't drive other sorts of cars by the way! (He said nicely)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 23:54 
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I tend to get pushed along a lot... That's probably a mixture of R's and the Ka... I still find it incredibly amusing to have someone right up your exhaust through a 30, then you lose them through the NSL, and they catch up at the next 30/40 limit...

I had a Porsche Carerra let me out the other day, I was absolutely amazed that someone in such a nice car would actually let a wee Ka out, but I think he probably felt sorry for me... I'd pulled over to let an ambulance past, and there was a car behind me (between me and said Carerra) and when the ambulance passed, the guy behind me just drove round me without letting me out...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 14:43 
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I definately find that I am treated differently depending on what I'm driving.

In the Rover 620, people pull out of junctions at point blank range, cut us up, overtake then brake to turn left, HGVs change lanes across me etc. The Rover was actually declared a Cat C writeoff in March 05 after an Impreza driven by a blonde 30 something woman pulled out of a T-junction in snow about 20 feet in front of my wife, who subsequently T-boned the Impreza. People treat it as though it's not there.

In the Cougar I am generally left alone, but a few knobs in old Civics with new alloys and exhaust try racing all the time, which gets very tiresome as to be honest, I'm more interested in keeping my petrol in my fuel tank than confirming published 0-60 figures for some ned.

In the purple 1998 Nissan Micra I learned to drive in (and subsequently drove for 4 years) I was nothing short of bullied by everyone and everything.


I enjoy having an assertive looking vehicle for this reason. My hand is never off the horn in the Rover (not usually through anger - but more collision avoidance such as blasting the eardrums of dick-head HGV drivers trying to flatten me etc) but I genuinely believe the last time I used the Cougar's horn was in March for it's MOT.

Curiously, I find I drive more relaxed in an Auto than in a Manual - especially round town. I get much more agitated then I really should when forced to stop/miss green lights etc due to other drivers faffing about or whatever when I'm wiggling sticks around and pushing clutch pedals up and down. In Autos I don't really care so much.


I am quite aware of making judgements of people based on their cars, but like other posters above, I prefer a confirmation of their driving style before making decisions on what to do.

Car snobbery I think is the term I used to hear as a child. I think this is a bit of a misnomer, but there are behaviours I expect from certain cars.

I expect to get stuck behind a Micra going slowly.
I expect to be overtaken by any Impreza or Evo regardless of my own speed.
I expect Clios to tailgate me in the wet.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 15:40 
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I don't get tailgated in my Impreza, almost nobody pulls out on me, and (when safe) I don't get held up by those driving well below the speed limit. :wink: However the same cannot be said for the Forrester, but maybe because of my driving style or just the general driving in this area it doesn't happen too much even then.

It wasn't so true in my Mondeo,and in Surrey while driving the Rover or Cavaliers it was awful, but everybody drives much more aggressively around the London area anyway (still no problems in the Impreza on my occasional visits down there).

As for being challenged for racing, that has almost never happened either - the last I remember was 2 years ago when one of those "ultimate driving machines" wanted to prove something, and as it was a safe DC with starting lights, dry conditions and no hazards, I obliged - at least up to 80mph where with him over 100 yards behind I settled back to the limit in L1. Then as we approached the roundabout that marked the end of the DC he finally comes flying past and from the nose down attitude he then assumes has to stand on the brakes to slow it down before he runs out of road. I shook my head in amazement at the 320 badge on the back - an M3 would be close, but not a lot else made in Germany is sub 5 sec 0-60. Still he was first to the roundabout and that must make him the winner!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 19:53 
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prof beard wrote:
To quote Jeremy Clarkson:

"You never see a badly driven Saab"

"Why do Saab drivers have that irritating smile"


It's because nice people drive Saabs I'm not implying that nice people don't drive other sorts of cars by the way! (He said nicely)


I'm reminded of that old Sniff Petrol thing where Saab said they were going to simplify their range down to two models, named to reflect their customer base:

A soft top called "Drug Dealer" and a hardtop called "Dentist".


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 21:21 
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Johnnytheboy wrote:
prof beard wrote:
To quote Jeremy Clarkson:

"You never see a badly driven Saab"

"Why do Saab drivers have that irritating smile"


It's because nice people drive Saabs I'm not implying that nice people don't drive other sorts of cars by the way! (He said nicely)


I'm reminded of that old Sniff Petrol thing where Saab said they were going to simplify their range down to two models, named to reflect their customer base:

A soft top called "Drug Dealer" and a hardtop called "Dentist".


:yikes: :yikes: I have an Aero convertible! I thought I was a Professor - damn - those drugs must be really strong!!! :)


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