Activism Video: Prius Owner Verbally Assaults Idling Diesel Truck Driver

Published on November 9th, 2011 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Video: Prius Owner Verbally Assaults Idling Diesel Truck Driver

Some days, I can’t help but shake my head at the tactics the green movement will resort to to get people to change their energy consumption habits. More often than not, these tactics seem to backfire, and the message gets lost in angry rhetoric that devolves into “Them vs. Us.” This video of a Prius driver accosting a diesel truck driver for idling in a parking lot is a perfect example of how not to engage in an intellectual discussion about idling and fuel consumption.

Driving A Prius Is Not An Excuse To Be An Asshole

I’ll let the woman’s actions speak for herself, but suffice to say, her holier-than-thou attitude combined with her foul mouth and aggressive behavior are all a prime example of how not to confront a person about anything. Her main beef; the diesel truck had parked downwind of her car, supposedly floating the diesel fumes over to her car. And of course, she just happens to drive a Toyota Prius, which many (including myself) consider to be the smuggest segment of car drivers in this country, if not the entire world. I’m sorry, but just because you drive a fuel-efficient car/hybrid/EV does NOT give you the right to lecture and make demands the rest of us. This is still America, damnit.

The diesel truck owner is quite calm about the whole thing, and in the video description he even admits that A) his truck is a bit of a gas guzzler and B) he bought it because he can go biodiesel. So this guy isn’t some ignorant redneck, and though he works in an office, he also says he lives on a farm…which is where this huge trucks belong, more often than not. However, on the same token, I found it odd that this guy decided to park two spots away from a pair of Prii, and managed to have his camera at the ready when this woman started verbally assaulting him and his family. I’m not saying he deserved it…but there is a question of motives here that I can’t quite resolve.

The whole situation really disgusts me, because instead of having a civilized conversation, we get two people arguing over something as simple as turning a car on and off. There are better ways to handle such a situation. She could have had a polite discussion, moved her car (which was not parked in a spot) to another location, or a number of other moves that would have been less-bitchy. Instead, she gets up in his face and makes outlandish, and frankly offensive, statements about the driver and his family. It is like someone took every annoying stereotype about hippies/Prius drivers/socialists and rolled them up into one very mean person.

A Better Way To Go About It

Last week many parts of Connecticut were still without power, and many gas stations had lines that stretched for many blocks. I personally waited over half an hour to fill up, and while waiting I noticed that pretty much everybody else who was waiting had their car on, despite creeping just a few feet every five minutes or so. I wasn’t so much bothered by the fumes as I was by the idea that these people were wasting gas and money. I live in a cash-strapped city with a working-class population, and I know that every dollar counts these days.

So what did I do? I struck up conversation with my neighbors (GASP!) and calmly explained to them that sitting here, idling for a half hour, was wasting more fuel than turning the engine on and off every few minutes to move up a few feet. Several people thanked me for the advice and followed it. Others politely disagreed, and one fellow actually got upset that I had to audacity to suggest I shut off his car. It was delicious irony when his car actually ran out of gas while he was still a few cars back from the pump (though I still helped him push his car, because that is how homeboy rolls.)

I’m not sure I made any real converts to the anti-idling crowd, and at best I imagine I saved a gallon or two of fuel between the people who followed my advice. But I also didn’t end up on YouTube looking like a complete douchebag. And there is even the slightest chance that I actually got a person (or two) to reconsider how they manage their fuel consumption.

That was how I handled a similar incident. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? How did/would you handle it if you were in this woman’s position?



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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Dean

    “she just happens to drive a Toyota Prius, which many (including myself) consider to be the smuggest segment of car drivers in this country, if not the entire world…”
    Source: Gas 2.0 (http://s.tt/13Lt5)

    Based upon reading a large sample of your writing, Chris, I’ve come to the following conclusion:
    You really do have a hate on for the Prius, and those that drive them, don’t you?

    • T Adkins

      In defense of Chris not that he needs it and the video speaks for itself, but there is a whole episode of South Park about how smug and high and mighty Prius driver can be. As foolish as it is for someone to do what she did it is a 50/50 shot that it is a staged video but I feel more than not that it wasn’t staged.

      -T

    • http://www.sublimeburnout.com Christopher DeMorro

      @ Dean

      Hate? No, I try not to give a place in my life for hate to fester.

      That said…well, I am not the first person to point out the smugness of Prius drivers, and quite frankly I feel that people such as this woman, with this attitude that they are somehow doing the world a favor, are actually *hurting* the cause of green cars and alternative energy. I know every driver of a Prius isn’t like this, not by a long shot, but for people looking for an excuse to mock an entire movement, this woman and her very-Prius attitude give them a lot of ammunition.

      There is no denying that Toyota has built a great car in the Prius, and even a decade after its launch, it is still the MPG leader. While I may not like certain things (styling, lack of power) about the Prius, it is a very, very, very good car, and I have no problem admitting that. I’m not sure if the Prius just attracts a certain sort of smugness, or if the car itself is to blame for the transformation…but I don’t like preachy people, no matter what they drive, and my real point here is that calm, collected conversation, not fiery rhetoric, will go a lot farther towards convincing people that this whole green thing isn’t just for the self-righteous.

  • Mamoru

    Had a Prius owner try to go “Holy than ….” on me back when the Prius first came out. I defused the situation quckly…. At the time I as driving on avg 20 miles per gallon Cadillac Eldarado, 18/25. Beat the pants off the 12 mpg Grind Prix I had just gotten rid of. He pulled up next to me at an event… and we both got out at the same time… “Driving a gas hog aren’t you?” I saw the car… and will admit I was curious. So I questioned him about the car without making comment to his jab. I’m 6’8″ 300 lbs…. and there was no way I was going to fit behind the steering wheel, so I asked him to determine if I could fit in it. Safely and Comfortably… He answered no, then I responded to his jab, “Now you know why I drive the gas hog.” Had a nice environmental conversation after that…… I will say the Ford Fusion Hybrid looks like it has the same room at my 2001 Impala on paper….. Probably be my next car in 5 or so years…

  • http://gas2.org Jo Borras

    The best part is that, in relaxed driving with no cargo, the diesel is probably getting about 50 mpg (easily more, if it’s a manual). That Prius? Probably better – but not if she’s hot-rodding the thing around town … if she is, her mpg is probably a lot less than she thinks it is. Given that she’s an obvious hothead and the truck driver is cool as a cucumber (I’d have stuffed a boot in this b****’s mouth), I’d say their real-world mpg difference is probably pretty close, AND the diesel will be running 250-300,000 miles from now with ease. That Prius? I don’t think so. Electronics are delicate things, after all …

    • http://gas2.org Jo Borras

      *20 mpg. Not 50 mpg.

  • tomwayne

    Don’t you mean “up wind”?

  • Kev

    O M G – This fat gal is the judge in the Zimmermann trial !

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