Everywhere around us there are new words being used to describe something. For example, for those of you who watched the NBA playoffs you'll note they refer to really tall players as "having length". That's what we used to call being tall. The Internet is riddled with newly created words such as "blogosphere" and "twittering". In gaming, if one kid lost to another, he just got "poned".
I think we in fleet safety need to do the same for driving. Here are some ideas to get us started:
Have you ever seen a driver fight his way through traffic until he finally reaches a gap in traffic? At that point the right thing to do would be to try to hold that position as long as possible. After all, if there's no one around, they can't hit you. But of course, that's not what most drivers do. They charge ahead to the next group of traffic and go through the exercise all over again. We'll call this select class of drivers "poddlers" as, similar to dolphins and whales, they seem so much more comfortable traveling within pods. In safety meetings, I've often had discussions with drivers about this phenomenon. Most "get" my point but a few will openly debate on the topic, proclaiming this is simply what you have to do to get around in the city. The freedom to discuss this topic is known as "podacracy".
How about drivers who cut in front of you? Sure, I know you already have a name for them, but let's keep it professional. These drivers aren't really trying to ruin your day, they are simply self-centered and oblivious to the problems they've caused you when they cut you off. In more common terms they have their heads up their...well you know. There is a term for these folks: "cranialrectologists".
Okay, how about those drivers who flip on the turn signal after they hit the brakes or during, rather than before a lane change? Don't get pissed off. After all, they aren't really out to cause you trouble. They aren't even aware of what they're doing. These are "signalramuses". These signalramuses continually reinforce what professional drivers have always known...the only thing you can assume when someone flips on the turn signal is that the bulb works. For your viewing pleasure I've included a video that demonstrates a cranialrectologist who is also a signalramus.
Now you are getting the idea. What about drivers with the infamous, "Baby on Board" sign stuck on the window? Some well-meaning entrepreneur came out with these in the 1990's. When I see a car with this sign it usually includes a loving parent tailgating the vehicle ahead, yakking on the cell phone and constantly turning around to tend to junior as he or she rolls down the road. And this person thinks the surrounding drivers are the biggest threat to their child's safety? The biggest risk to their kid's safety is right there in the vehicle with them! Unfortunately, these are not just a phenomenon of the 80's and 90's. These "notresponsipods" can still be seen on streets and highways near you.
Let's attach a name to something a little more positive. Here's the scenario...you are safely traveling down the road calmly watching all the poddlers race by. Suddenly, you have to jam on the brakes as another motorist cuts in front of you. You keep your cool (no horn, no fingers) and patiently rebuild space to protect yourself from this driver. As you watch, they do it again, expertly cutting off another driver. A few moments later, they do it one more time. It's confirmed, he's a cranialrectologist and you'd better watch out.
A minute or two later you've forgotten about the cranialrectologist. They've moved on to spread their misery to others. But wait, who do you see pulled off to the side of the road with the state trooper? Yup, it's the guy who just cut you off. It doesn't happen often enough, but when it does, it sure feels good...doesn't it? This is a rare moment when the stars align perfectly and justice is served. I haven't thought of a name for this yet, but it sure is awesome!
There's actually a purpose behind this little exercise. Too many drivers let their emotions take over and personalize it when someone else makes a foolish move. Once your emotions take control, bad decisions and poor judgment often follow. Next time you're behind the wheel, try this little vocabulary exercise as a method to diffuse your frustration before emotions impact the way you drive.