I don’t know if it’s the economy or a fashion trend, but lately I have seen a sizable number of badly dented vehicles on the roads. Take the truck in the photo above, for instance: based on its appearance, it must have been in more than one accident.
Near the bottom of the side, just behind the cab, is a large dent, which must have been caused by something hitting the vehicle from the side. The front left side is badly dented, possibly due to the truck hitting an obstacle in its path, or simply colliding with another vehicle which was facing it. This type of dent could have happened during a left-hand turn showdown — or something to that effect.
What happened to this truck, to put it in its current condition, is only known to the owner. The rest of us are only able to speculate. But, that’s exactly what happens.
It’s difficult not to notice a badly beat-up vehicle on the road. A car full of dents and scrapes signifies either an aggressive or incompetent driver. And, it’s hard not to let our imaginations run away with us recreating how the car came to be in its present state.
The lack of repairs also shows someone who just doesn’t care about the condition of things. Anyone who cared about their car would be upset by witnessing damage to it. After an accident, a normal vehicle owner would want their car restored to its original condition. Yet the owners of the demolition derby style vehicles don’t.
Those motor vehicle owners distinguish themselves from all the others by flagrantly driving around in their ratty cars, as if saying to the world, the more dents I have, the greater my worth in the realm of disintegrating vehicles. It’s a matter of pride, like saying: “I’m cooler and tougher than you because my car has so many dents, and so many collisions to its credit that I’ve lost track of them.”
Drivers of this type rack up dents like a cowboy racks up notches on his belt. In this case, dents equal achievements. The driver has earned a reputation as someone who is willing to hit things with a vehicle. Metal indentations represent reckless behavior and a disregard for property.
For anyone operating a vehicle on the same road as these demolition derby cowboys, the dented vehicles should be a warning. Certainly, no responsible person would be driving around in a vehicle in such poor condition. Less responsible people are careless with their belongings. In addition, the driver of such a beat up vehicle would show less caution.
After all, if a car is smashed up anyway, why bother trying to avoid an accident? Crashing one more time wouldn’t make the slightest difference in terms of the car’s condition . Nor would damage to another car matter much to someone who drives a semi-demolished vehicle — unless the accident cost them something in vehicle repairs, medical bills or higher insurance premiums.
Upon sighting an unusually dented vehicle, wariness should be exercised. Driving or riding too close to damaged vehicles is inadvisable because predictable driving from its operator is unlikely. Erratic, irresponsible driving is more likely. And disregard for the welfare of others is also possible.
Then, there are mechanical issues to consider. Such a poorly maintained vehicle might have faulty brakes or steering problems. A failure of these components could lead to injuries, not only to the driver of the clunker, but also to innocent vehicle operators or passersby.
Cyclists should be particularly wary. Drivers who don’t pay attention to the condition of their vehicles, don’t pay attention to atypical road users either. They live in a world of neglect.
And, that’s the bottom line. Identifying neglect is a way for cyclists to protect themselves. Neglected vehicles mean careless drivers. Careless drivers mean danger. Danger is something to be avoided at all costs, especially when it comes to bicycles interacting with cars. Bicyclists always find themselves on the losing end of such encounters.
On the bright side, some of the worst drivers identify themselves in the clearest way. The condition of their vehicles is a reflection of who they are, and it sets them apart from average drivers, who may or may not injure a cyclist — but who, at least, don’t pilot eyesores.