Male, young and often self-employed, he drives his delivery van like a maniac around city streets to meet his delivery deadlines, ruthlessly cutting up other drivers to get ahead and frequently risking accidents, the 'White Van Man' is a common species on the roads here in the UK (and probably in many other countries as well). Most often viewed as a mobile thug , or as an unruly road hog hunched behind the wheel of his rusty white charger, White Van Man has a reputation for heckling other road users for incompetent driving, or hesitation of any sort, both of which are usually met with wild gesticulations twinned with a burst of language that'd make a sailor blush.

The term was coined in 1997 by renowned social commentator, BBC Radio 2 DJ and late co-conspirator on Game For A Laugh, Sarah Kennedy . It has since 'offiicially' entered the language after gaining a place in the Collins Concise Dictionary and the Oxford Compact English Dictionary, and has even ventured into the realms of academia after the Social Issues Research Centre published a paper entitled 'White Van Man. Demon or Diamond Geezer?'

I had the misfortune of coming across a White Van Man during my driving test. He was parked on my side of the road, facing me as I drove towards him. About 2 seconds before I came level with his van, he pulled away, cutting right across in front of me and forcing me to jam on the brakes to avoid a collision - not good for your nerves, which are especially fragile during a test.

Sources include

White Van Man is also capable of driving his van at any speed, regardless of the actual performance capabilities of the vehicle, providing there is another vehicle no more than 9 inches in front of him.

I have postulated that Ford could probably win the F1 Grand Prix constructors' and drivers' championship by entering a single driver in a battered white Transit. Provided that they could squeeze it past the scrutineers, the van would always finish second, about 6 inches behind the flustered and hassled winner, flashing his lights and leaning out of the window. The cumulative effect of this consistency would probably win the championship, so long as Michael Schumacher had a couple of off days.

Or "My experiences of driving from Manchester to London and back again in a large white van".

This weekend I moved to a new flat but I had to pick up some hand-me-down furniture from London. (Watford if you want to be picky) I hired a Long Wheel Base Ford Transit from Salford Van Hire (who were excellent so this is their little advertisement), drove it through the centre of Manchester (which I hesitate to do in the smallest of town cars) and took it down to Watford on the motorway.
These are the things I noticed and possible insights into the the White Van Man psyche.

Around Town

  • This is a big vehicle and you already have reputation for being nasty. People DO move out of your way. No matter how polite you are and how much you try to go against the white van rep, you are feared. People let you out of side roads without you sliding out slowly. If you indicate to change lanes and people do emergency stops to give you space lest you cut them up and ram them off the road.
  • This is a big vehicle, you have to plan every single change in direction 1/4 mile ahead of when it is needed. This is perhaps where the average White Van Man fails and then is forced to make last minute decisions that result in heart attacks for fellow motorists.
  • Corners, oh what fun! For the longer vans like I had this is a nightmare. Have you ever cursed a white van that is indicating left but stays half way or completely in the right hand lane? This is so that he doesn't side swipe the lamppost/bin/OAP on the corner. If you were to, say, decide to punish this incredibly bad driving by putting yourself into the left lane (specifcally, if you drive a metallic silver Toyota Yaris - you twat), is it any wonder that your average van driver is somewhat irritable?
  • Profesional drivers are your friend. They go through this just as you do. If you are courteous, they will be too. It's a whole road karma thing.

On the Motorway
This is where you notice the size of your vehicle the most! It takes you longer to start and stop and you want to travel as far as possible in as little time as possible. This means that when it has taken you 10 minutes to accelerate to 75 mph, the last thing you want to do is take your foot off the gas. This is what affects your driving on the motorway the most!
As VT_hawkeye kindly pointed out, in the US they don't muck about with their vans and stick V8s in 'em. Unfortunately, White Van Men are also cheap so the majority of vans are aneamic 2 Litre Diesel wimps, pushed to the ragged edge!

  • Lane hoggers. These are the people in the inexpensive 5 door painted in a rather neutral colour that sit in the middle lane no matter what the circumstances. These people do not appreciate that heavy vehicles may want to overtake them yet do not have the ability to accelerate to 90+ on a whim OR use the fast lane. If you see a van following you very closely and flashing its lights at you on the motorway, just check the slow lane. If there's nothing there, use it!
  • Other Pros, again these are your friends. If you get a truck trying to overtake another, let it out. If you are overtaking him, when he flashes you, it means that you have covered enough distance to pull in front of him. All very nice. Once again, it's about karma. (Thankyou is done by a quick flash of the opposite indicator or the warning lights)
  • Some van drivers like to think that they are the fastest thing weighing over 2 tons. They don't like it when you steadily wander past them in the next lane! It's amazing how often you over take a White Van Man only to find him hunched over the steering wheel staring at you as he goes past only 5 minutes later.

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