Thursday, December 31, 2009

Which is the devil and which the angel?

Every now and then, I find myself going too fast (OK, probably a little more than every now and then). When this happens, I usually try to slow down to get back to the speed limit. But I hate when I'm going several miles per hour over the speed limit, and I already have someone sitting on my tail. At that point, I have the little angel and little devil on each shoulder. I'm not sure which one is saying which thing, but one says that slowing down too much now is like false advertising; someone got behind you assuming you would be continuing at the current speed (even if it is too slow for them). The other is saying, screw the bastard; if he/she is already tailgating, he/she deserves to be slowed down even further. I usually compromise and slow down gradually, hoping the tailgater will turn off or find a good place to pass.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I hate BMWs

Today's loser car is a BMW. I was driving down the street in the right lane when I saw a man walking in the street. I thought the left lane would be a better bet at about the same time the BMW behind me thought the left lane would be a good lane to pass me. She honked, and I got over as soon as I got by the pedestrian (I think the sidewalk was still covered with snow). So far, that was pretty normal. But then the BMW just started weaving from right to left lane trying to pass everyone and not getting very far. The roads were pretty clear, but this driving was dangerous in any condition.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lots of Snow -- Drivers Taking It Slow

The roads are pretty good, but there is still a lot of snow and slush around. I have been taking the highways and avoiding the side streets as much as possible. The highways are completely clear, and the drivers are driving normally (that is, fast). On the side streets, everyone seems to have dropped their speed so I'm only slightly below average now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No ones driving today as we're snowed in. We are up to about 1 foot of snow, and it is showing not sign of letting up. It is supposed to keep snowing through the night.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stupid Risks

I have no illusion that people driving faster than me aren't getting there faster. That is, I know that, on average, it takes me longer to get where I'm going. I can still hope sometimes. Today, I was driving, and an older Buick passed me by crossing the double yellow lines. The funny (or stupid) part about it was that he passed me just to get behind a line of three cars in front of me. For part of the way, we were all going less than the speed limit, and then the speed picked up so the group of three cars plus the Buick go ahead, just a bit. I could still see them most of the way until we got to a traffic light. At the traffic light, the Buick went around the other cars and through the red light. Had he not done that, his passing me wouldn't have gotten him where he was going any faster.

I sure hope he was going somewhere important...perhaps, he was late for his driving lesson...or traffic court.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be Nice - Drive a Mercedes

I try to pay attention to what types of cars are behind me. I'm trying to figure out if there is a pattern (although I'm not being very scientific about it). On my ride to work, there is a big stretch of road that is 30 m.p.h., which is where the I run into the worst tailgaters. Today, for most of that stretch, a very nice looking Mercedes was following me. I had a theory that luxury-car drivers were the worst offenders as I've noticed a lot of Lexuses (Lexi?) tailgating me. But this Mercedes was a perfect gentleman, keeping a safe following distance the whole way. Then, I turned off onto another 30 m.p.h. road, and another Mercedes (an SUV) was behind me and also keeping a safe distance. I was disappointed when the Mercedes SUV turned off, leaving a taxi cab right on my tail.

I don't think this would work as a marketing campaign for Mercedes (Be Nice - Drive a Mercedes), but you never know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Highway vs. Back Roads

Today, I had to stop for gas so I took the highway to work. It's about the same amount of time if there is no traffic, but there is usually traffic in the morning on the highway. Today, the traffic was fairly light, and the highway was great.

When I told a friend I was writing this blog, she said that she always drives close to the speed limit on the highway, but usually goes faster on the back roads. It's not that I never get tailgated on the highway, but I am finding the highway much easier and less stressful. The main stress comes on the back roads where traffic has no safe way to get by. As long as I stick to one of the right lanes on the highway, the ride is smooth.

Another friend once told me that limousine drivers will often drive the speed limit in the left lane to make the ride as comfortable as possible for their passengers. They don't have to deal with traffic getting on and off the highway and can generally keep a constant speed. Aside from feeling like a jerk (remember, I'm not trying to annoy anyone--just trying to drive safely), I would feel constantly stressed sitting in the left lane going slower than most of the traffic.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bad Signage

This morning I was going to a meeting, not straight to my office. The meeting was at a location I have gone to many times (my office used to be there), but I haven't gone this particular way to this particular location n the last couple of months--i.e. since I started driving the speed limit. But this morning I wasn't annoyed at the other drivers; I was annoyed at the signs. As soon as I turned off my normal route, I looked for the speed limit sign, and I couldn't find one. Now, I'm driving down a road, and I don't know how fast I should go. I don't want to go too fast, but I also don't want to go too slow. It's bad enough that I annoy people when I drive the speed limit; I don't want to really annoy people by driving 5 m.p.h under the speed limit. I drove 35 (my best guess for the speed limit) until I hit a sign that said 30. I slowed down only to get the sinking feeling that I was doubly annoying the people behind me because they felt duped by my earlier faster speed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tailgating Poetry?

Are you late for work
Or are you just a jerk
If you missed the bus to school,
You can still keep your cool
When you lean on the horn,
To what kind of mother were you born

OK. I'm not much of a poet. The first half of my ride to work was very pleasant. For most of the time, I was being followed by a Ford pickup truck. I thought pickup truck drivers would be a bit more aggressive than others...but not this one. He stayed a safe distance the entire time he was behind me (through a couple of miles of a 30 zone and a couple of miles of a 40 zone). Then, I shed a tear when he went a different direction, and the giant Toyota SUV sat on my tail and on his horn. OK, he only hit the horn a couple of times, and it was better than the middle finger from the other day, but the speed limit was 30, and I was going 31 or 32. I'll have to start visualizing the important places he had to be: perhaps he had a job interview, he was a volunteer firefighter on the way to a fire, he was carrying a donated heart to be transplanted...or maybe he was just a jerk. I'll never know, but I can hope for the best.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

This morning I was about 50 feet from a line of traffic waiting at a red light when a car zipped around me just to wait behind a line of stopped cars. I found this quite amusing.

Before you think I am some smug goody-goody, I know I used to do things like that (perhaps not as bad as this particular example, but I would certainly do my best to get past slower cars). I know everyone is in a hurry (I'm still in a hurry; I just stopped driving like I am). I am just trying to see the humor in it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The roads were wet today so the tailgaters kept their distance. In fact, for about one-third of my drive, I was going slower than the speed limit because of the traffic in front of me. I never thought I would be hoping for bad weather. At least we didn't get the ice that the weather predicted.

Fortunately, I've been driving the speed limit for two months, and I just started this blog so I have a lot of things to catch up on...

Last week, my wife called me in the afternoon and told me not to go home my usual way. Right where I had my accident someone had taken out a utility poll and the road was blocked. You can't tell from the map, but the road curves right around here, and it goes down hill a bit as well. The speed limit is 30 m.p.h., but it seems like it should be more because the road is very wide. Very few people drive anywhere close to 30 on this road.

When I had my accident, the woman who lives near the spot of the accident (I think my car was on her lawn) said that there is an accident there about once a month. She has tried to get the county to do something (speed humps or grooves or ...), but they haven't. I always hated speed bumps on roads or any of the things that are made to slow traffic, but now I think it is a great idea for this spot because the road gives you a false sense of confidence and makes you think that someone was crazy to make the speed limit 30. It turns out that they knew what they were doing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Since I have been driving the speed limit, I have noticed that I have been tailgated quite a bit. I can't blame them as I have done my share of tailgating of slower drivers in the past. I try not to tailgate now (although if anyone is driving slower than I am, they are almost certainly below the speed limit). Today, one jerk in a BMW tailgated me half of my drive to work. This wasn't so bad as I have gotten used to it, but it spent most of the time with his middle finger pointed in my direction.

With most tailgaters, I keep myself calm by singing to myself some impromptu song about tailgating, such as Monty Python's song Sit on my Face with the word "face" changed to "butt."

Welcome to I Can Drive 55

I was in a car accident a couple of months ago. It was my fault. I was driving a bit too fast. No one was hurt, but my car was totaled. I now have a new car, and I am trying to drive the speed limit. I am not overly strict about this. In fact, most of the time you will see me driving one or two miles per hour over the speed limit, and I am doing my best to stick to that.

This is challenging when I am in a hurry and when I am on a road with one lane in each direction (which happens to be most of my ride to and from work) and the traffic starts to back up behind me.

My goal is not to annoy anyone so if there are multiple lanes, I avoid the left lane. However, I am finding many people are still annoyed.

I was never a super-fast driver, probably about average. Now, I am learning that I can drive 55...and 45 and 35 and even 25.