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Steve Berry
Motoring journalist Steve Berry on White Van Man
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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
White Van Man: Cut up about it

white van man n 1. unruly road hog at the wheel of a light delivery vehicle who freely heckles other drivers for incompetent driving, hesitation pulling away from traffic lights or daring to drive any vehicle not a white van. Alternatively, 2.sage-like everyman, with finger on the pulse and accelerator foot on the zeitgeist pedal

MOST COMMONLY SEEN: looming large in your rear view mirror.

COINED: in 1997 by renowned social commentator Sarah Kennedy (BBC Radio 2 DJ and late of Game For A Laugh). Has since entered the official lexicon winning a place in the Collins Concise Dictionary.

SPECIFIC ORIGIN: white's the way vans leave the factory. Many smaller firms don't want the expense of painting them up in company colours (and anyway, that would lower the resale value and deny motorists the hilarious sight of "Also available in white" written in grime across the van's back doors).

OEUVRE: as a journeyman philosopher (cf. cabbies), the influential British tabloid, The Sun, even has a column in which WVM can impart his wisdom to the nation.

EXAMPLE: Ford Transit jockey Nathan Long on the recent massacre of the Nepalese royal family. "That was bang out of order."

DISPUTED USAGE: The UK's 2.2 million WVM are none too happy about their public image. Half of those quizzed for a Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) report said it was other motorists who deliberately "cut them up". Three-quarters rate themselves as better than average drivers.

DAMN LIES? Statistics. The AA now says WVM is 40, a safe driver and has not filled in an insurance claims form in four years.

AKA: Derv-powered dervishes, Transit tearaways, mad b*****ds (according to SIRC research).

Your comments:

Reader Colin from New Zealand adds: White Van Man is definitely not to be confused with "Driver in a Hat" - usually (but not always) sixty-plus, driving a stately and stolid 35 kph down the middle of the road, slowing to a standstill five seconds before starting to indicate a turn, and then continuing to indicate for the remaining portion of his journey.

Reader Gareth Evans adds: Of course they are not to be confused. WVM doesn't feel the need to indicate.

How am I driving? Comments and suggestions can be submitted to the E-cyclopedia by clicking here.

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