Thursday, June 2, 2011


This song is dedicated to the black Toyota Camry who followed me halfway to work:

It's summertime
And the driving is easy
The road crews are working
And the traffic is light

Your fuel is rich
And your car is good looking
So slow, little baby

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Therapy Couch

This morning I was driving behind a black Honda that was driving near the speed limit. I was very excited. I kept hoping the car wouldn't turn off a different direction than I was going so I could stay behind it. It lasted three-quarters of my ride to work.

However, I started thinking: Why am I so excited about this? Since this blog is my therapy couch, I'll share and hopefully have a breakthrough. My excitement stemmed from the fact that the line of cars behind us couldn't blame me for slowing them down. I was excited that their anger would be directed at someone else, not me. Since this is therapy, I'm coming to understand how foolish that is. What difference does it make whether if the other drivers direct their anger at the anonymous driver of this black car (me) or that black car (the driver of the Honda). Why should I really care?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Self-Righteousness Alert

When you do something like driving the speed limit, it is easy to get overly self-righteous so it is good to get reminders not to do that. This morning, I passed a stopped school bus. A woman had stopped coming the other direction and gave me a look that could be either horror (like I had just run over her son) or righteous indignation as she screamed "NO" at me through her closed window. The problem was that the school bus was not stopping to pick up kids at a bus stop. As it pulled over to the side and put flashers on, I waited a few seconds, but it never put it's stop sign out and there were no kids in sight. It was just stopping for some other reason, and it is perfectly legal to pass a school bus that is just parking. This is great reminder to me to remember that even when I'm right, I'm not always right. I need to keep in check any indignation or horror over someone going a bit faster than I am going or even someone passing me in questionable circumstances. Sometimes, I might not be right.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Illegal Passing Epidemic

I think it's been about four times in the last week that I have been passed illegally. I wrote about a couple of those times here and here, and it happened again this morning. This was the least dangerous one, but it is still a disturbing trend. This time it happened within half a mile of my house. He got behind me on one of the 25 m.p.h., and I knew he was trouble when he started shaking his head, but he seemed to be distracted by his coffee so I thought he would back off. We turned onto a 30 m.p.h. road, he got close, and took another sip of his coffee. Then he went around me on the right. The road is pretty wide at that point, but it is still one lane--if they painted narrow lines, it possibly could be two lanes, but it is only that wide for about 500 ft so it's not worth it. Of course, like the others, his passing didn't buy him more than 5 seconds. We got to a light that happened to be green, and he turned right onto a road with two real lines in each direction. Even if I were turning ahead of him, he could have legally passed me immediately in the left lane.

Even though this episode was pretty minor, it is part of a really disturbing trend. My whole point of driving the speed limit is to drive more safely. It's as if these people are trying to balance out my added safety by driving more dangerously.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Red Infiniti pulls up behind me and tailgates me most of the way to work. At some point she started driving a bit erratically. It looked like she had pulled out her cell phone and started texting. I can only imagine what she was texting, but I imagine it was something like ILBL8 to let someone know she was driving behind some annoyingly slow driver. Finally about two minutes from my office (and 30 seconds from a spot where the road widens to two lanes in each direction), she passed me on the right shoulder. Just past where she passed me, there is a speed trap about once a month, but it wasn't there this morning. Too bad. She could have been nabbed for speeding, passing on the shoulder, and texting while driving.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gamifying Speed Cameras

I heard a story about a new idea: gamifying speed cameras:

Apparently, in Sweden they have tried this. Instead of the money collected from speed cameras going to the government, the profits go into a lottery. The lottery winners are selected from the people who drove by the speed camera at or below the speed limit. The way it works is that the cameras not only take pictures of speeders; they also take pictures of everyone going at or below the speed limit. The story said that it has been quite successful in Sweden.

Looney Lexus Lady

I can understand that people want to go faster than I go and don't want to be stuck behind me. I've been there. Even now as I drive the speed limit, I get frustrated when I get behind someone driving slower than I am. What I don't understand is someone taking stupid risks to get past me. On my way to work this morning, a lady in a blue Lexus got behind me. I could tell there was trouble because she kept slipping over toward the lane for oncoming traffic. We got past my accident scene (it's now been almost a year and a half) to a stop sign. Just after the stop sign is a slightly windy uphill road. She took that opportunity to cross the double-yellow line and whiz by me. I wouldn't say that the visibility is zero at that point, but it is pretty low. If a car had been coming (perhaps, someone driving as fast as she wanted to), she would have never seen it coming. She was very lucky.

Then, of course, comes the best part. The road ends about a quarter of a mile ahead of that, and she got stuck behind five cars waiting at the stop sign. I wonder if she saw me laughing as I pulled up right behind her (and if she knew I was laughing at her). As we both turned the same direction she tried to go fast, but, alas, the traffic would not allow. I mostly kept her in my sight for another 10-15 minutes when I saw her turn off at a traffic light. Had she stayed behind me, and not risked her life to pass me, she would have been a total of 10 seconds behind where she was.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Right-Lane Tailgater

I got a good laugh on Monday. I was driving on the highway during rush hour, but traffic was light because of the holiday. I was in the right lane, and a car came up behind me and sat on my tail. Did I mention I was in the right lane with two lanes to my left? After a couple of miles of this, the car zipped into the next lane over, passed me, and got back into the right lane. Did I mention that he could have done this two miles earlier? Immediately, after passing me, he got "stuck" behind another car in front of me, still in the right lane. Did I mention that I put "stuck" in quotation marks because traffic was light? A little while later, the right lane slowed down so I easily got into the next lane and passed the right-lane tailgater. I thought that, perhaps, he just needed to get off at the next exit, but I kept an eye on him, and he passed at least a couple of exits before I lost track. I think he just like the right lane and still wanted to go as fast as possible. I'm sorry it didn't work out for him, but I got a good laugh out of it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Car Talk Used to Drive the Speed Limit

This week's Car Talk (, call #7) featured a caller who drives the speed limit. He was looking for a way to signal to other drivers that he is driving slower than they might like. One of the car talk guys said he used to drive the speed limit but fell off the wagon recently and started speeding and driving in the breakdown lane. I sent him this letter (in case you don't listen to the show, calling them "knuckleheads" is par for the course and not the least bit insulting:-)

Dear Knuckleheads,

This week you were talking to someone who drove "slowly," and one of you (I can never tell which of you is which) mentioned that he had just stopped obeying the law while driving. I have diagnosed his problem, and it is Exo-self-righteous-itis. He fell off the wagon because he is too concerned with other people. The trick to obeying the law is not to be a self-righteous jerk and try to make everyone else do what you do; it is to worry about yourself and lead by example. Now, his example is being a knucklehead and driving on the shoulder to save two minutes at great risk to himself and others. I have been blogging about driving the speed limit since I have been doing it for about a year and a half. Check it out at:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Speed Cameras: How Do They Know?

I was driving on the highway last night through a work zone. The work zone speed limit is 50 m.p.h., and I was going 40 (the car in front of me was going slowly so I couldn't get up to 50). We passed by a speed camera, and I saw the flash of the light in my rearview mirror as it caught someone speeding (probably the guy next to me who hit the gas at just the wrong moment). However, I'm really curious as to how (and if) it knows whom to cite. The camera seems to take a still picture of a whole range of cars. My (not speeding) car must be in the picture right next to the speeding car, but you can't tell from a still picture. I guess (I hope) it is sophisticated enough to know who is speeding and who is not.

On a related note, I'm finding the speed cameras in this work zone to be very curious. First, I have noticed that speeds are generally down in the work zone, which is a good thing. When they first started with the speed cameras, the light would flash like flashbulbs at a rock concert, basically constantly. Now, they only flash occasionally.

However, the speed cameras are not there all the time (they're mounted in special trucks on the side of the road and can move around). I have noticed that they are almost always there at night and rarely there during the day. The goal is to increase safety, especially of the workers, in work zones. However, in this particular work zone, they are not working at night so it seems like they are there at the wrong time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Daughter Wants to Drive Like Me

I was driving in my car the other day with my children, and my 13-year-old daughter told me that she hopes that when she starts driving, she follows my example and drives the speed limit. It was a very proud moment.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fast Times in Florida

I was down in Florida visiting my dad and my old hometown, and I noticed that the speed limits are higher down there. In Maryland, we have highways that are 55, 60, and 65. I drove three hours on the Florida Turnpike at 70 (that was the speed limit). Many of the non-highways are also higher. Many of the non-highways were 45 and 50. Of course, those "back roads" also tend to be wider (many of them 3 lanes each way). With the higher speed limits, there were still many people passing me, but not as many as usual. The pressure to speed was much less with higher speed limits.

One more thing. I was driving my father's wife's car, and it doesn't have cruise control. Maintaining speed is much harder without cruise control. I use cruise control all the time. I just have to watch myself on hills so I don't speed up too much going down hill. Cruise control would have been perfect in Florida because there are no hills. Instead, I found myself going up and down in speed, never quite sticking to the speed I wanted.