Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Asian Drivers

Am I a racist because I believe that Asians are terrible drivers?

Answer: yes.

But! Let me clarify this point. I don't think all, or even most Asian drivers are horrible, but I do think in my part of the country, there is a large population of shitty Asian drivers.

Okay, so I know that sounds bad. Just give me a second to explain.

This topic came up while at work. My coworkers and I were talking about driving in the city, our various driving experiences, blah blah blah, etc & so on. Eventually the topic of shitty drivers came up when I mentioned in passing that I'd run across a lot of bad Asian drivers -- and they jumped on it! Suddenly the whole conversation was an Asian driver bashing session, outlining the various nationalities/ethnicities that are the worst.

Now, the funny thing about this is that my coworkers who were working that day are Asian! They're Filipino, Cantonese, and Korean. Which reminded me of some my best-good friends back home, one of whom is also Filipino, and the other is half. It reminded me of my ex-coworkers at Tilly's who were Vietnamese. It reminded me of some Thai gamer buddies.

Basically I started thinking of all the Asians I knew who thought the same thing.

Does that justify it? No. But it's worth mentioning. Because when enough people tell you you're right, it's hard not to believe it.

Because whenever I'm driving I tend to get really pissed at Asian drivers who cut me off, who don't signal, who drive too slow, who tail-gate, who swerve, who block traffic, who run lights... Hell, just a few days ago some Vietnamese woman got into a huge accident over on Juniperro-Serra because she randomly drove through a red light at 20 miles-per-hour and was slammed by some Hummer-Jeep taking the right-of-way. Or the Chinese man driving his van-wagon down Ocean and swerved from the right lane to the left lane in the middle of the intersection almost hitting a car waiting to make a left-turn. Or the Korean guy who cut me off on the freeway only to hit his brakes suddenly and go back to his old lane...

It's gotten to the point where whenever I see an Asiatic driver my inner-road-rage manifests itself prematurely with sudden breathing, adrenaline pumping, and eyes beadily-flashing as I prepare to make some hasty lane-changes (using my signal, goddamnit!) to avoid the impending slowdown because they're always driving 20 mph under the speed-limit in a clear lane!

And it was then I realized that I'm prejudiced against Asian drivers. I am! I have a prejudice. It's not cool, but it's there nonetheless. I'm not sure how to feel about it either.

Obviously I've encountered my fair share of bad drivers (what with all the road-trips and adventures I've been on) but for some reason the Asian drivers stand out as "the worst", and the people I associate(d) with believe(d) the same thing.

It made me realize how easy it is to stereotype people and fall into that ignorance of confusing the trees for the forest.

Besides which, the Asians I know/knew who've agreed with me that Asians are bad drivers have said it's a cultural thing. Y'know, their parents are first-generation, and they never learned how to drive very well. So when my friends/acquaintances grew-up, their parents taught them and since their parents weren't super-good drivers they were enculturated as shitty drivers.

So now what? What do you do when you've identified a prejudice you have? Can you just suddenly discard it like some dirty clothes? Do you have to simply endure it like a bad knee? Or do I fight against myself like a cancer and try to kill it without killing myself? I honestly have no idea.

This isn't a post about shitty Asian drivers, or about hating on Asians. This post is about me, and my own biases. My own prejudices. It's weird, scary, unsettling, and just plain difficult to understand.

So I guess the question I keep asking myself is:

Now what?


10 footnotes:

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend's a scary driver. :-)

I think now that you are aware of it, you might start to notice more non-Asian bad drivers. IME, when people come to terms with a personal prejudice they usually try to overcompensate.

Just wait until I take you downtown tomorrow and you get up close and personal with Chicago cabbies! :-)

Zek J Evets said...

i'm scary only because i don't wait for nonsense. i just move! besides which, my driving is all perfectly within legal limits. AND I SIGNAL!

chicago cabbies sound like cool dude-bros ; )

Chuck said...

You're about 8 months out from becoming a full on HBDer - if you don't stick your fingers in your ears and do the "nyah, nyah" thing.

This is what started me down the road towards HBD: I realized that Asian drivers suck.

I find it interesting that you ask the same questions of yourself about your beliefs of Asian drivers, but I get all kinds of hell from you and others at Abagond when I ask how I'm supposed to rationalize the higher rates of black criminality in our society.

By the logic of most of Abagond's commenters (and I'd assume you), we should rework the roadways such that Asian drivers are better at navigating them rather than allowing Asian drivers to become better drivers on their own.

So it seems you're operating on a double standard here. You seem less willing to accept that I have similar questions about race differences because you arbitrarily decided that issues pertaining to black people are taboo.

Perhaps these ideas make us both racist. The difference, I guess, between you and I here is that I don't think it is the worst thing in the world to be considered a racist if that is the definition of that word. If "racist" is merely just being honest about hard truths, then I'm a racist. Oh well.

Zek J Evets said...


no, the difference between you & me is i realize that my personal experience does not encompass an entire race of people from various nations, backgrounds, and other walks of life. what i see is only a small slice of the world. what you see is not the whole picture.

that is the key, fundamental difference between you & me.

Chuck said...


the title of your post is "Asian drivers". how are you not making a generalized judgment of a whole race of people?

Zek J Evets said...


despite the title that led to this post, please pay close attention the entire piece as opposed to mere headings.

"This isn't a post about shitty Asian drivers, or about hating on Asians. This post is about me, and my own biases. My own prejudices."


Eurasian Sensation said...

Beware Zek, Chuck is trying to convert you, Chancellor Palpatine style!

There was a study done in Australia (where the same stereotype exists, btw) which said that Asians were actually better drivers. As in, they are involved in less accidents.

So the question is, what makes someone a "better" driver?

I actually would agree that Asian drivers are safer in terms of causing accidents. I can't stand the way my mother drives - slow, overly cautious - but in over 35 years of driving she's never caused an accident.

I actually think its more of an IMMIGRANT phenomenon rather than an ASIAN phenomenon. I doubt a migrant from say Europe is going to drive any better than one from China. But the European driver is white so his race doesn't register mentally for most people.

My own take on this issue is here: (blatant blog promotion)

Zek J Evets said...

@eurasian: that's a good point actually! my classmate, who's vietnamese, and read my post as i wrote it, says that she's a "shitty asian driver" because she learned from her mom, who immigrated here, and her mom is a TERRIBLE driver.

so yeah, i think being an immigrant has something to do with it, and your post is a pretty good opinion on the matter. thanks for linking it!

Zek J Evets said...

P.S. i am strong in the ways of the force. the dark side shall not corrupt my spirit =P

Anonymous said...

Better untaught than ill-taught.