Sorry I’m A Safe Driver, and: I Hate Minivans

I have a bone to pick with minivan drivers. What is the deal? You either drive way too fast or way too slow. Can’t you just drive normally? I can’t help but feel like some of the rude driving I’ve seen happen with these vehicles is because there is pent up rage from owning one of these ugly things. I’m in the minority in that I am a woman who has no desire whatsoever to have one. My male counterpart couldn’t want one more, inexplicably.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been on road trips and the cars that are going 85 and being obnoxious are minivans (usually male drivers). I smiled the other day when I was coming to an intersection and saw that a minivan had been pulled over, presumably for speeding or having just run the light. I couldn’t help but feel vindicated for what had transpired earlier that same day. Shall I relay the story?

So that same morning, as I was sitting in the left turn lane at a busy intersection – and I was the first car in the turn lane, mind you – there was no chance for me to turn left against the regular green light, so I knew I was going to have to sit through another cycle before I got the arrow. Right as the light was about to turn, a minivan drives around me from being in the turn lane and proceeded to go out into the middle of the intersection, turning left against the red light. Thank God s/he had the turn signal on or it would have been REALLY obnoxious.

You can bet your sweet bippy I honked at this foul offender, whilst also spewing some choice epithets after him/her. (I’m assuming it was a man but who’s really to say.) Pretty much, this was my face:

When I told my boyfriend the same story in a really appalled tone, he took the opportunity (after agreeing that it had been a dick move) to say, “But you know, if you’d been pulled out into the intersection, he wouldn’t have done that.”

What ensued after this statement was a huge debate about whether or not it’s illegal and/or courteous to pull out mid-intersection to turn left. This must be a “Champaign thing.” Where I grew up in St. Louis, there are very few lights which do not have green arrows, so we know exactly when we can turn. Having to sit at a busy intersection with no green arrow is not only infuriating, but basically encourages this crappy driver etiquette. And this was a light where we had a green arrow! It only lights every other cycle for some odd reason, though. Being rush hour traffic, I really had no opportunity to turn.

Anyway, although we are both good drivers, the boyfriend and I disagree on several driving habits, this being the main one. Apparently I’m the jerk for not pulling all the way out and waiting for the light to turn, even if it’s when the light has turned red and I just have to get out of the way; whereas I can’t help but feel like an a-hole if I pull that stunt. It happens so often here and yet, I still hate doing it. I feel like I’m basically running a red light when I do this. Kevin insists it is perfectly legal. I have not been swayed. Our debate escalated to the point where, in a very frustrated moment I blurted out, “Sorry I’m a safe driver!”

You just never know who is going to do what when crossing an intersection and I don’t like sitting in the middle of the action when I can sit behind my safe little white line that was designated for this purpose. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Okay, back to my original diatribe about minivans. I find them ugly, bulbous, and too similar looking. They’re everywhere. Plus, I don’t want to turn into Shitty Minivan Driver. I understand that if one has lots of children, these are probably Dream Modes of Transportation. Since I have zero children, this definitely accounts for the strong bias. I just don’t understand what a minivan has that say, a nice-looking SUV or crossover doesn’t have. I’d really like to know. Being the aesthetic person that I am, it’s more of a looks thing than it is a stereotype thing, but the stereotype does play into my dislike. I also know that there are folks out there who SWEAR by minivans and would never drive anything else. I’d like to hear from you!

For whatever reasons that Kevin adores minivans – all of them practical, I assure you – we have actually gotten into a heated debate about why we may or may not purchase one in our future solidified life together. I am adamantly opposed (has that been made clear?) and he is insistent on changing my mind. He finds them to be the pinnacle purchase in adulthood, I think. Strangely enough, Kevin’s best friend is also the one in his relationship who prefers to have a minivan and his wife is the one that has the same knee-jerk reaction I do: Yick! So they have that to bond over, which is cute and funny.

If anyone out there can shed some light on the intersection debate or tell me all the merits of owning a minivan, I’d love the feedback! I can’t fathom changing my mind about ever wanting to own a minivan but never say never, right? I think Justin Bieber never says never. Or he just says, “Never Say Never.” One of those.

In the meantime, I will bask in the glory of sedan ownership.

**Edit March 2017** — a couple of weeks ago, I was at an extremely busy intersection during the 5 o’clock rush home. I needed to turn left across two oncoming lanes of traffic, and the intersection is quite wide. It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to cross those lanes with two lanes of traffic barreling down on you. Because of the heavy traffic, I stayed behind my little white line at the light. A woman raced up behind me and, when she realized I wasn’t going to move out into traffic, shook her head at me. She was older, perhaps in her 50s or 60s. I saw her grimace and shake her head in my rearview mirror. I decided to fight her crankiness with silliness and I happily waved at her. She saw me waving and lightened up (slightly) and half-heartedly waved back at me. (I like to think that she felt a little embarrassed, perhaps thinking I knew her, and she is only comfortable doing that to strangers instead of people she knows.) The light went red and we sat through another cycle until I was able to safely cross with a green arrow. My husband still asserts that he sided with the lady behind me but I like to think that being cautious saved myself and possibly the woman behind me from making a poor driving decision and getting into an accident. The “Sliding Doors” theory, if you will.

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Comments

  1. As a minivan driver, I do apologize on behalf of the rest of my ilk. For us, with three kids in toddler seats, we really don’t have a choice as an SUV would use more gas than our minivan, cost about $100 more a month in payments (at least), and be quite a bit more in insurance premiums. Basically, you’re suffering because of our children + our cash flow. Sorry.

    • See, this is the kind of feedback I need. So it REALLY is about economizing and about the kids, versus, you think minivans are just awesome, right? Thanks for your quick response!

      • I do not think they are awesome. I do think the automatic opening doors are awesome when I have my 2 yo twin daughters by their hands, and I’m trying to safely navigate them through a parking lot. So nice to be able to push a button on the remote and have the door open when I get to the van.

        I do not think they are cool. Ours is an unavoidable necessity.

  2. I know Kev (@saintclarence27) would have a field day with the automatic door opener, whether we ever have kids or are people who accumulate lots of dogs.

  3. I learned how to drive in our family minivan and it was “my car” through my junior year of college when it died. I must say it was fun driving around large groups of friends in it (since the van could hold six friends instead of the four that a typical SUV could carry.) Although, unless I have three or more kids, a sedan or SUV will be my car of choice.

  4. Also, I’ll say, if you hate people who go beyond the white line to turn left, you’ll HATE the Pittsburgh Left. Never drive in Pittsburgh! That’s my advice.

  5. Seeing the title of this post I was compelled to read it. Thank you. I don’t drive one, but I know they’re a lot roomier than an SUV, for example, and that would be one reason someone would choose one. If they needed roomier. Add this to your list of dick things minivanners do: Last night at the grocery store (late, around 10:30 pm) I returned to my car to find a minivan parked across from me. Taking up two spaces. Yep. Parked diagonally across the line between the two spots, just like those assholes do with their BMWs or other oh-my-god-don’t-even-think-about-parking-next-to-me cars. Only this was a ten year-old Honda minivan. People.

    • You’re so welcome and thank YOU for stopping by! Your comment REALLY made me laugh because haven’t we all seen older, clunky cars taking up two spaces? I was in a tight parking garage in Chicago not too long ago and a large Cadillac had purposely parked in a spot that had a sign which read, “COMPACT CARS ONLY.” So its ass was just hanging out in the very little space left for the rest of us driving around. So far I’ve heard that it’s about economics but no one has said that they own a minivan because they’re badass!

  6. Kevin Schneider says:

    I agree with your boyfriend about pulling out into the intersection. Refusal to do so incites road rage. I also agree with him about minivans, like this one: http://www.vw.com/en/models/routan.html?sem=234016587&cs:e=g&cs:pro=vwmc

    • OMG. Just the headline, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your families” made me want to gag. Also, “slick” as that minivan may look, it looks exactly like every other minivan out there that doesn’t go the Caravan route (eggy).

      I need REAL reasons why you want a minivan.

      • The Routan is one of the ugliest minivans EVAR. Just as they were coming out of their boxy phase, they thrust right back into it like an AWFUL Kia Sedona. The only need for a minivan (that I can think of) is for passenger capacity. That, or if it’s emptied of its seats, hauling. But then, in my opinion, it becomes more dangerous (more wobbly, heavier to stop, etc)

  7. I AGREE WITH YOU, I HATE MINI VANS TOO AND WOULD NEVER EVER OWN ONE. AS FOR THE INTERSECTION DEBATE, THE PEOPLE WHO PULL ALL THE WAY OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION JUST SO THEY CAN TURN WHEN THE LIGHT DOES, DESERVES TO BE HIT BY THE DRIVER WHO CHARGES THROUGH LIGHTS EXACTLY WHEN THEY TURN GREEN. NO ONE SHOULD BE IN THAT MUCH OF A HURRY THAT THEY CAN’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER LIGHT CHANGE TO GO THROUGH PROPERLY. YOU GUYS KNOW WHO YOU ARE WHO DO THIS, AND YOUR TIME WILL COME WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU WHILE DRIVING – – THEN YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT RUNNING THROUGH A CHANGING LIGHT AT AN INTERSECTION. ZOE, I’M ON YOUR SIDE ON THIS ONE!

    • Thanks, Nikita! That’s one of the reasons I stay behind my line!

    • nikitaland – I wouldn’t go so far as to say someone deserves to get hit because they do something that is sometimes necessary. What happens if you’re at an intersection, want to turn left, there is no turn lane (or a turn lane but no arrow for you) and there is constant oncoming traffic. Even if you waited for the next green light, there’d always be oncoming traffic to interrupt you from turning. What would you do then? Go through the red light after it has turned from BEHIND the stop line? That would be unsafe and you’d be more likely to be hit by the oncoming (perpendicular) traffic than if you were already in the intersection waiting to make the turn.

      I think it all depends on the circumstance of the turn – turn lane, green arrow, amount of oncoming traffic, etc.

  8. Wow, you got a lot of responses on this one! I told you I was going to respond and here I go. First? I’m with you on the minivan. ICK! They’re boxy, wobbly, soccer mom mobiles. I understand the use for them, just as I’ve grown to love the “utility” of an SUV. The problem is, however, that there are too many people who try to drive them like cars. No matter what you say or do, the law of physics does not allow a minivan to be driven like a car. So, say, a 30-something male has kids and needs the minivan but then drives it when they’re not in it (or even scarier when they are!) and suddenly feels the need to be sporty. Um, no. They’re also a lot larger (often times in driver perception than actual outer size) and people just don’t know how to adapt. If you can’t handle the size of your vehicle, don’t drive it.

    That being said…the intersection thing. I’m with Kevin on this one. If it’s one thing that irks the eff outta me, it’s someone who sits BEHIND the stop line at a green light because when the light DOES turn red, it IS illegal to then make your turn. If you go into the intersection, you allow yourself (as well as the car behind you) the ability to be in the intersection to either make the turn when you can and/or LEGALLY when the light turns red. It also allows for traffic to get around you if there isn’t a turn lane.

    Having driven by you (and plenty outside of the city), there aren’t a lot of busy roads without turn lanes. The ONLY time I’d say it’s ok (and actually safe and appropriate) to stay behind the stop line in a left turning lane is when there is a green turning arrow. Then it’s ILLEGAL to pull out into the intersection PLUS you’ll have ample time (as well as the people behind you) to utilize the left green arrow to make your turn.

    The testosterone hath spoken.

  9. Ashley Becker says:

    Amen sista!

  10. Oh man…I am definitely an ‘out in the middle of the intersection’ type of driver…but who can blame me? I drive in Boston! 😉

    As for minivans…one word: EWWW! I will stand behind you in your quest to keep Kevin from buying one! haha

    • Thank you! I need all the backup I can get, lest I have to post five years from now a photo of me tragically driving one of them around. No one can predict the economics of it, though, like Chris pointed out. But I will remain steadfast as long as I can!

  11. Whatevs, Kev!

  12. Zoe, I love you for your energy and spunkiness! ((hugs))

    Cough, clears throat, sniffles….um….I drive a mini van. LOL It just turned 9 years old and is still going strong. I am one of those with a ton of kids to transport (well just four, but still).

    I have to say I thought I would NEVER own a mini van but when we were looking at baby #3 and compared the gas mileage of a SUV to a van, we went with the van. And, to be honest, we’ve loved it. Drives wonderfully, great leg room for the kids and I can see a bit more of the road, helping me drive more safely, I think.

    I am also one who only goes 5 miles per hour above the speed limit, but down here in SC, that probably is the norm. The South moves a bit slower than the rest of the country. 😉

    • Amanda, this is great feedback! Thank you so much for coming by to read this post. I have gotten both support and flak for it. I am trying not to say “never,” because I know that will come back to bite me in the butt. I guess I’ll just have to roll with the punches and see what happens. And if you have precious cargo (kids) in the car, I understand driving more slowly. I am not a race car type driver but I definitely whip around faster than if I had a child with me.

      Big hugs right back atcha!

  13. I’m a little late on this, but I’m with your man 100% on the intersection debate. In Southern California if you dare wait behind the line and alow the light to go from yellow to red without getting out there and completing your turn you are taking your life into your own hands. Folks get pissed! The minivan was a jerk, but, to be honest, I would have been pretty mad too 🙂

    Like Meg P, I grew up with a minivan (Mazda MPV!) and in fact took my driving test with it. But I don’t love them and I don’t want one.

    • Oh, I totally believe you about Southern California. There is too much traffic going on for people to not take those risks with the yellow lights haha. The minivan WAS a jerk. I think I just want validation for that one event! Also, yesterday as I drove to work, there was an accident on the side of the road and a minivan was involved and another one that had been driving really slowly behind me suddenly sped up to run a red light and I was all, “Tsk tsk tsk…mmm hmmmm.” From what I gather, the only people who WANT minivans are guys like my dude and his best friend, but everyone else uses them for practicality and efficiency purposes and nothing else. I have my sights on a Hyundai Genesis – you know, in the universe where I have tons of money.

  14. Oh my gosh…Seriously, I googled ‘why do minivan drivers drive so badly’ and I found this!

    I live in a suburb (ok, so I guess that explains all the minivans!) of Atlanta and they are everywhere. Which, I don’t have a problem with. It’s the WAY they drive that I can’t stand!! They absolutely have pent up rage about having to drive one of those things, and seem to have some need to show us sporty car drivers just how much like a sporty car their van still is. Right. Come on people, drive your minivan the way it was made to be driven, you know, like you’ve got all that precious cargo in it, and we won’t make fun of you.

    Ok, the intersection thing, COMPLETELY with you on this. It is rude and I’m pretty sure illegal to sit in the middle of the intersection.
    I have to tell you that once a similar situation happened to me, with a woman pulling around me to get into the intersection, (not a minivan, but she DID have a child in the car – nice.) and she proceeded to almost overdo it and pull into oncoming traffic in her haste to show me how it’s done. Well don’tcha know a cop saw it, and pulled her over right there!! It took all I had not stop and laugh at her. I LOVE KARMA!!!

    🙂

    • Andrea, love your story! And being in Atlanta, you have tons of traffic, too. I would have laughed and felt pretty good after witnessing that woman getting pulled over, as well. Thank you so much for stopping to read and comment. I hope you’ll be back!

  15. I too one of the safest driver as you, never go even 5 beyond the speed limit, most of the time avoid freeways and take local roads. No left turns without arrows, if signal doesnt have arrow light i prefer taking another mile to find such or will take right and then come back. No tickets no accidents.Touch wood.
    After having second kid my husband is forcing me to take minivan, but i personally feel i m more safer driving my own smaller car, but still not able to decide whether to go for minivan.
    The idea of driving this big vehicle itself scares me a lot. Still deciding and reading blogs of people to see if its really worth.

  16. lol I hate minivans with all my heart (unfortunately drive one), but you really failed hard with the “waiting-behind-white- line thing lol no offence. That just adds to the women being worse drivers stereotype lol.

    • “No offense,” but it’s a completely chauvinistic belief that half the population are bad drivers, for one, and that because I, a woman, choose to wait behind the white line before turning at an intersection, I add to that narrow-minded stereotype.

      • Nope it has nothing to do with gender, because my mother herself criticizes other females on the road thanks to their hysterics on the road. Not all females are poor drivers, but a lot of them are including as it so happens yourself simply because you fail to handle an intersection properly. You HAVE to step across the white line, and wait to cross when it’s safe or when the signal turns amber/red. You can “respectfully disagree” all day, but that still won’t change the fact that you failed to observe the rules in regards to this element of city driving. It’s funny though how you continue defending your mistake. That’s one issue I’ve noticed with A LOT of females unfortunately—none of them are willing to accept their mistake. Wonder why that is. I make mistakes on the road all the time, and am never hesitant to admit to them.

      • First of all, this is a blog, wherein I express an opinion. It’s biased because it’s MY point of view and no one else’s. Second of all, just because your mother says women perpetuate a stereotype doesn’t make it non sexist.

        I don’t need to “accept responsibility” for something I do that isn’t illegal and that I do differently from others. That’s like telling people who have an accent different than yours that they need to “own up” to their pronunciation mistakes.

        Last but not least, I see that you’re incapable of stating an opinion without making it about women and their “problems.” Please sort out your lady issues elsewhere.

  17. This made me literally lol. I have such anxiety when I drive in back of or next to a minivan and my husband makes fun of me for it and I was literally just looking up to see if there is a word out there to describe my absolute disgust and saw your post. They ALWAYS drive so slow and have no regard for other drivers,every single time. So funny someone else shares my feelings lmao!!!

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