Drivers Wanted – Why Zipcar is a bad idea and why I stay away from them on the road

January 2, 2013

There are myriad updates on Facebook and Twitter today talking about the acquisition of Zipcar by rental-car conglomerate Avis. Turns out, the deal isn’t done and it’s currently just an offer to purchase the car-use company based in Cambridge, MA. But that’s not here, that’s not there…what I want to rant about briefly is why Zipcar blows. It’s the drivers!

First, an assumption. We can all agree that it’s impossible for EVERYONE to be a good driver. Especially with the number of accidents, arrests, violations and other traffic-related incidents on the roads. But if you talk to anyone – from family members at a party to followers on Twitter – you will hear from a majority of them that they are great drivers.

Next, we can also all agree that practice makes perfect…or at least it makes you better at a task. Type a lot and you become more proficient. Cook a lot and you get better at orchestrating meals. Drive a car a lot and you are usually safer on the road.

FYI, this is why insurance company rates for teens and inexperienced drivers are so high. AND the main reason rental car agencies require drivers to be 25 years old (they assume that means the renter has been driving for five or more years). But with Zipcar, this all falls flat.

Who among you hasn’t witnessed the shiny Prius puttering down the road, “Wheels when you want them” emblazoned on the side door, menacing traffic and lives with abandon? I’ve personally taken photos of bad drivers in Zipcar cars and sent them via Twitter to Zipcar. I have enough photos that I could start a blog with the content.

These Zipcar users don’t understand traffic laws, don’t drive the speed limit, often are skittish going into rotaries and onto highways, and essentially behave as if they’re in a driver education car with a smelly math teacher sitting in the seat next to them with the oh-Jesus handle in a deathgrip.

This little soapbox only blossomed because I like to think I’m a good driver and I don’t tolerate incompetence. In a restaurant it can mean getting an overdone burger. On the road – courtesy of a Zipcar user – it can me your life. Here’s hoping that if Avis does win the company with their bid, they raise the rental age and safety requirements. I also hope they’re more proactive in their use of social media – as the missives I’ve sent to Zipcar in the past have not resulted in a response.

What’s your experience been?