Slow Going

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If speed kills, why are people always  in such a hurry to get to the hospital? It seems to be the only time they’re in a hurry.

American drivers are marinated in the doctrine that any motorized movement  – not just acceleration – that doesn’t emulate the movements of a Galapagos tortoise is necessarily dangerous. This is based on the belief that most American drivers are so inept that allowing them to drive at all is dangerous. Hence the push to get them into driverless cars.

Meanwhile, they glaciate.

The guy behind the wheel of the car ahead of you puts on his car’s turn signal. After awhile, he begins to mosey over to the right. It is more like a senile drift than a turn. You could almost read at least the preamble to the Declaration of Independence in the time it takes for the lane change to eventually be completed.

As unbelievable as it may sound to the youth – to anyone under 30 today – it was once considered good form to signal and move at the same time. To complete the lane change in moments rather than minutes.

Even the signaling was quicker.

The driver controlled how many times they flashed. Once, twice – it was enough.

Most cars built since the early 2000s have taken even that freedom of action away from the driver. They automatically signal at least three and sometimes more times whenever activated – to provide a kind of visual goad to go slow.

Meanwhile, the driver waits for a space to open sesame.

The blinking signal serving as a kind of pathetic plea rather than a statement of intent. It is common for a driver – the term is used loosely – to just sit there, signaling. Neither increasing or decreasing his speed to make use of any openings which exist.

Turning off the road is performed with similar palsy. The driver ahead engages the turn signal a quarter-mile prior to the place where he will eventually depart from the main road.  You wait – and wonder. He begins to brake . . . slowly. His speed gradually decreases – until his car is almost stationary.

Only then does he begin to actually begin to  turn off the road.

It is not uncommon for “turning” drivers to actually stop in the middle of the road before beginning the laborious process of turning the steering wheel in the desired new direction. And then – after a suitable pause – gradually ambling off in the desired new direction.

People also take forever to stop.

They’ll crawl up to the sign and practically put the thing in Park before proceeding. It’s probably only a matter of time before they turn on their hazards at every stop sign – something many of them already do when it rains.

These visual expressions and other manifestations of the Cult of Hypercaution having become a kind of paralytic virtue to be signaled . . . by signaling. Other examples include the coming to a halt in the middle of the road to wave a pedestrian who hasn’t got the right-of-way across the road.

This is one of the few times the brakes will be applied firmly. And without signaling.

Parking also takes forever – chiefly because so many people can’t anymore. And even if the car can, it takes forever to park itself – tentatively creeping a few inches, reorienting itself, then creeping some more – not so much for “safety” as because of lawyering.

It is of a piece with the self-closing/opening tailgates that open and close like a geologic epoch.

You could toast bread in the interval.

Being able to park – quickly and accurately – was once a skill expected of drivers in the same way that continence is expected of people who aren’t toddlers, oldsters or people with prostate problems. It was safer, too – because the quicker you did your business the sooner you were out of the way. Today, one slow-motion parker (or parking egressor) can bring a road to a standstill.

And once traffic is brought to a standstill, it takes forever to get going again. This would be understandable if cars were slow and it couldn’t be helped. But the slowest car made during the past 10 years is quicker than the fastest cars of the past. This is a slight exaggeration, perhaps – but only slightly.

The slowest modern car is the Toyota Prius C – which needs about 11 seconds to achieve a speed of 60 miles-per-hour. One of the fastest cars of the past was the 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans-Am, which also needed about the same 11 seconds to get to 60. Most cars of circa 1980 needed more seconds.

People moved slowly then because they had to.

Today, the average car is capable of getting to 60 in about 7 seconds. But it takes most drivers much longer to get there today – because they’ve been conditioned to regard acceleration at more-than-Prius pace to be the equivalent of dangling a baby out of the window while guzzling whiskey and swiping Tinder dates.

It’s bizarre.

The average new or late-model car is capable of going much faster, far more safely than the cars of 1980 – or even 1990. But people are driving like it’s 1980 – and the speed limit is still 55  . . . and the amount of fluoride in the water has been tripled.

Sammy once sang about not being able to drive 55. Today, people don’t drive at all.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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99 COMMENTS

  1. Jeez…. whatta buncha old grouches. I think a little prozac is in order here. And just because i cant read road signs doesnt mean i need glasses to drive… (sarc..)…

  2. I recalled seeing a commercial on TV that may explain some of the road tortoises. The “safe driving app” that advertises “don’t mess with my discount” B.S. !

  3. Oh, and WRT turn signal use, I put it on right before I need to make my move. If making a turn, I’ll put it on 100′ or so before a turn. The only exception is if I have to pass someone waiting to pull out; I’ll wait until it’s obvious I’m not going to turn where the waiting vehicle (i.e. the guy on the side street or driveway waiting to pull out) is, then put on my indicator and make the turn just past him.

    If I’m on a multi-lane highway or freeway, I’ll make sure the coast is clear, tap my signal lever (it give three blinks for a lane change if you don’t click it in place), then change lanes.

    What I don’t do is put my indicator on a mile before my turn or direction change!

    • MM, 100′ isn’t legal in Texas….and shouldn’t be. I turn on my signal after passing the last street I can turn before the street I want. That brief signal and slam on the brakes causes huge wrecks. The guy behind you can often stop but the lag time catches up soon after that and 3 or 4 vehicles back they begin to gather the cars behind them. It may work on the interstate when you’re already in the lane and only have to turn slight right. It’s a killer in town.

        • My best friend and I went to college together and lived together. We were going down a busy 4 lane street one day and there was a dummy right on our ass. He did his usual, slam on the brakes, hit the turn signal just as he hit the brakes and turned.

          I finally couldn’t take it one day and told him he was gonna get run over doing that. He asked what I was talking about. I told him in no uncertain terms. I was surprised he actually quit doing that. The life you save…….

      • It was a minimum 100′ when I got my license in NJ 100 years ago. I’ll give more notice when I can. However, if you put on the indicator 1/4 mile before your turn and there’s a vehicle off to the side between you and your turn, then they might think you’re turning in before you get to them. The upshot is either they’ll pull out in front of you, or they’ll t-bone you. If there’s a vehicle off to the side waiting to pull out; if it’s between you and your turn; then I wait till I’m on top of them to put the indicator on.

  4. One thing that pisses me off is people slowing down before the exit! The exit lane is also known as the deceleration lane, and it’s called that for a reason. WTF don’t people keep their speed up until they’re in the exit or deceleration lane?! I can understand if it’s one of the old style exit ramps where there’s little or no ramp; then, they have no choice but to slow down in the highway lanes. However, those are rare nowadays. I just wish people would keep their speed up, exit, then slow down. WTF is so hard about that, people?

    • Exit lanes are usually followed by wide sweeping turns to slow you down. Our turnpike in Pennsylvania uses bends in the exit lanes leading up to the toll booths to slow you down. EZ Pass lanes are 5 MPH, most go through at 15 or 20 MPH. In Western PA we have a new high speed EZ Pass in only one section of the pike which requires no reduction in speed. Most of the pike is now 70 MPH. To Eric’s point, reaction time can be considered a constant, meaning that the faster you drive the less time you have to react. On the other hand if you drive at a ridiculously slow speed you are creating a hazard on the road. I have read that you waste gas if you drive over 55 MPH. I do not know if this is true. Something about aerodynamics.

      • Certainly the faster you go the more fuel you use. I saw a YT video of some guys putting an air-cooled engine from Harbor Freight in a small Ford of some sort, a worn out beater. It worked….to some extent. You might not want to hit the interstate with it.

        Every study regarding speed shows the closer to the same speed every vehicle goes, the safer the entirety. I always hated Thurdays and Fridays on I 20 with my speed limited truck that would only run 70. Then there are companies like Swift(not so)that are supposedly speed limited to 62 but it was always 60 when I came up on them. They once called me, maybe a year and a half ago for a job.

        I said “No thanks, I cuss those 60 mph rigs too much to drive one of the dangerous things”. The woman on the other end said “62 mph”. I told her I didn’t want to split hairs, I just wouldn’t be in a rig going that slow, not to mention the pay hit you take going that slow and working by the mile.

        A few months later I got behind a Swift truck and it was doing 70. Guess they decided insurance company or no, they needed some drivers. Still wouldn’t drive for them though. They’re good for those who just started trucking and don’t know better.

      • It is true that you burn more gas at higher speeds. Driving at 55 mph is a waste of time. All that said, placing a speed limit on a road does nothing to reduce fuel consumption. The 55 mph speed limit in effect in 1974 saved exactly no gasoline at all. Between 1970 and 1976, fleet fuel consumption varied between 11.9 and 12.4 mpg according to the Energy Information Administration. In 74, fleet mpg was 12.0 mpg. In 76, fuel economy was below 1970 levels. This was despite an 8 mph reduction in average travel speeds on rural interstate highways, which carried 25 percent of the nation’s traffic, about the same amount as today.

        So, why did the fleet fuel economy remain essentially unchanged for that 6 year span? The 55 mph era was responsible for erratic driving on a large scale. People accelerated to get around slower cars, braked to avoid them and braked to avoid speed traps. Driving in those days was almost as stressful as today with 3 times the amount of traffic on the roads.

        Low speed limits amount to a collosal policy failure and the 55 mph speed limit became the most disregarded law in history

      • Hi Oskar,

        In re “wasting gas.” Why is this anyone else’s business? What if (per Swamp) I prefer to save time? The utilitarian argument gets us nowhere because it’s one guy’s opinion about what’s “best” vs. another guy’s differing opinion. It’s the moral argument that has puissance.

        Lookee here:

        The government decreeing that I must restrict my speed to 55 – or whatever speed – because driving faster “wastes gas” – the gas I bought and paid for – is no different than the government decreeing I must restrict my caloric intake on the same basis. That I be punished for “wasting” food I bought and paid for.

        Gas, like any other product one buys, ought to be regarded as the property of the person who paid for it. No one else who hasn’t paid for it ought to be able to have the slightest say as far as how the owner uses what he paid for. It is obnoxious almost beyond words for someone to dare to tell the owner of something how he may use it; that he must not “waste” the thing he paid for.

        • eric, you’d be really pissed to live through the supposed fuel crisis that didn’t exist and own your own truck trying to make a living at 55mph.

          75% of O/O went bust in 75 and of the ones left, 75% of those O/O went bust in 76. Those were really tough times for truckers and all because of govt. interference. You weren’t around to see the truckers drive on DC(district of criminals). It did no good and stupid from Georgia didn’t see how he was killing off an entire industry. I got away from trucking for a while in 1980 after RR deregulated it. You really couldn’t make money with the govt. slipping some money to certain large carriers and even that didn’t last. I’m not sure there’s a company still in bidness from then.

          Meanwhile, way back in the early 70’s the RR’s were getting a $B/year. No chump change there but rail has always been a long term delivery and even then requires trucks for the final destination if you didn’t have a rail to your bidness. But little food was hauled that way unless it was something that time didn’t affect.

          If we didn’t have trucks everyone would starve. Please, just sell me some bread. Oh, they can’t find those cars. And that’s rail service for you.

          They ran this test on tv with a big rig running 55 around a flat track. If that was representative of the real world they’d be right. This is the kind of shit truckers have to bear.

          I had a DPS sitting at the bottom of two long, steep grades tell me it was 55, not 62 over the CB. I replied “Yeah, but I need to get up that next grade tonight”. He didn’t say anything again.

          If you have 500 hp or more and can do at least 70 you’ll get much better mileage using that speed to get over a hill much faster and use less fuel.

          A friend and I were running the same route every day for months(boring). He had a 3406 B Cat engine and a 13 speed transmission. I had a 435 hp 60 series Detroit and a ten speed. We’d fuel up every day since we were running between 6 and 700 miles every day. He always got 6mpg and could run away and hide from me any time. I got a flat 5 every day. But the idiots that order trucks don’t know shit.

          Another friend had the company get a new fleet of trucks with 550 Cummins in them. The drivers were waiting on one foot and then the other for a new truck. Well, they had to turn them back to a 100 hp “so they’d get better fuel mileage”. This guy said that’s bullshit and I’ll show you if you’ll give me one that isn’t turned back. So they finally did on the condition he didn’t tell the other drivers(sure thing buddy). At the end of 6 months they had to eat their words as he had the best mileage of all the trucks.

          I can’t wait to see how that Duramax Gale Banks is in process of developing turns out in a big rig. He already has one producing 700 hp and 1500 lb ft. of torque…..reliably. It will be interesting.

          • I forgot to say in 81 you’d see the same fleet of trucks have the name changed every 6 months. Various corporations bought them to try their hand since it would be a tax write-off. They couldn’t tolerate losing money for any longer than that.

        • The problem with “wasting” gasoline comes under this idea that all the raw stock for gasoline is owned either collectively or privately by the so-called ‘elite’. That our use of it deprives future generations of it. Future generations that aren’t supposed to be using it anyway, but I digress.

          However gasoline is a manufactured product. It is currently manufactured from oil pulled out of the ground. Of course oil can be manufactured as well.

          Anyways it falls under the same ‘useless eater’ mentality that the world belongs to a tiny few and the masses are consuming what they own.

    • MM this happens here in Australia also. Maddening in the extreme. We have all this sleepy driving here too. I thought it was due to the scameras that our criminal governments put out in cooperation with thieving private companies like Redfucks, but now I see that this style of driving is prevalent in the US too. Wonder how those people would go on the autobahns.

      • When red light cameras came to Chicago I already knew about “Redfucks” and I told people what it was. I was called all sorts of names and of course a “conspiracy theorist”. Well a decade later it was one of Chicago’s biggest corruption scandals. And yet some towns still haven’t gotten the memo or simply care more about fleecing people.

        • Morning, Brent!

          I always question the premise behind these cameras – i.e., the validity of speed limits. If you don’t, if speed limits are legitimate,then why not use cameras to enforce them. But on the other hand. . .

          What outrages people is that cameras take people at the their words as opposed to their actions. Lookee here: Almost everyone – Clovers included – “speeds” to one degree or another, almost all the time. But Clovers think their “speeding” is ok. Yours and mine? Dangerous!

          Cameras eliminate the wiggle room. Everyone is forced to obey the stupid speed limit.

          The whole thing is stupid. And unjust.

          To fine a person is to punish a person. For what? For driving arbitrarily faster than ab arbitrary number? I can think of few things more ridiculous. Why not also fine people for wearing too many – or too few – clothes? Oh. Yes. They do that, too.

  5. While there are lots of dumb things drivers do that annoy me, one thing I’m now focused on is being more patient. Like most commentators here I’m in the older demographic and becoming impatient is a sign of aging. Sure, we’re closer to death and can’t waste the time we have left, but impatience can kill you. Rushing where angels fear to tread, etc.
    In Montana, folks don’t signal for a turn until they are in the middle of turning (a local friend warned me, he’s right.) In Texas you are lucky if they bother to signal at all. Lane changes on freeways especially. Slow drivers do bug me, but worst are those who sit still when the green light comes on. And sit, and sit. Often for 20 seconds or more. Cell phone usage. Gotta finish my Facebook post!
    Now around here there is the Houston Hesitation, likely practiced other places too. That is, sitting for about three seconds at a busy intersection after you get a green light. That isn’t inattention, it’s waiting for the speeding maniac to zoom through his red light after yellow that comes on and he won’t stop. I’ve seen it too many times to want to jump off on green. Getting T-boned is very bad. If the intersection isn’t busy then no problem. I’m trying to learn to chill when driving. OK Zoomer, you be the idiot, not me…

    • One of the most dangerous maneuvers is coming to a stop in the lane you’re going to turn from. I’ve been lecturing people(mainly women)about this for decades. I’ll pull into the barditch at speed when one of the clueless, in a hurry, is barreling down on me when I need to turn. Put on the right signal, hit the shoulder and brake hard enough to get them around me…..and then wait till there’s no traffic from either direction.

      Getting off a major highway onto the farm road to the house I’ll pull off at an opposing driveway and turn back 90 degrees to the roadway so I can safely cross. I have no problem with speed, just head up ass and speeding….or going slow.

  6. halolha…that scene in Point Break…Utah’s drowning himself, & Tyler shoulda’ let him, but that woulda’ been a short show. (But a short show prolly woulda’ never launched the terrible sequel, so there’s that creative accounting — but also a fact.)

    Look crazy son of a bitch! You wanna commit suicide, you do it someplace else!
    Look at this pig-board piece-a-shit. It’s still got the price tag on it, for Chrissakes. What’d you do, buy it yesterday? You’ve got no business out here whatsoever.

    Well, I saw you and—

    Yeah, you saw me and you figured that if a mere girl can do it, a big strong stud like you shouldn’t have any problem. Right?! Well you figured wrong, dork!

    Incompetence is legal. But consequences are law.

    That goes for all the flyweight bicyclists legal lollygagging in the same lanes as heavyweight cars & trucks…weren’t nearly so much of that nonsense in the 60’s-70’s, either. I do like this guy, tho:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClWq5ujatk8

    Let ‘em tip those canoes sez Tyler, now, too. Libertarian & let libertarian. When I was young I usta’ say live & let live.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTzsm9-XWQo

    Keepin’ the faith…key line: ‘Cause the good ole days weren’t Always good And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph7oZnBH05s

  7. “The car ahead of you puts on his car’s turn signal. After awhile, he begins to mosey over to the right.” How lucky if they ever mosey, let alone not swerving LEFT before turning RIGHT (and vice versa.) Passers beware!

  8. Oh my! You’ve clearly not been out to “super conservative” Utah lately! Driving around Salt Lake County (and even Utah County) is Life Threatening! The Drivers are rabid on the freeways and city streets. Even in country-like towns the drivers are ridiculously aggressive. The local freeways (I-15, I-80, I-215) have 70 MPH speed limits in Salt Lake and Utah County but the average speeds are 75 with 25% going 80+. Not only that, but while going 72 (my usual ‘conservative’ speed – set on my cruise control) I’ll frequently see someone on my tail so close that their headlights can’t be seen. And frequently when someone comes up and want to pull in front of someone they just do it with only a few feet of space and no signalling and then have to hit their brakes scaring the crap out of me.

    On city streets, there is no such thing as ‘stopping’. Just the other day (and I’ve seen this multiple times) I was pulling up to a four-way stop intersection and saw three cars on my left just run the stop sign without slowing at all. Likewise, hitting a red light I’ll see apes pulling up to turn right and do so without slowing down at all either.

    So if you’re heading through the Salt Lake area please be extra careful! 😳

  9. Good morning Eric, At 52 I still despise going slow. About 27 years ago, I was way more impatient. There was one time I was traveling from Luray to Front Royal on highway 340 in my ’84 Hurstolds. I was pacing along fine until I had to slow behind a conga line. There was a car in the front going 35 in a 55 followed by a tour bus followed by 8 cars with me in the back. We came upon a passing zone and no one in front made the attempt to pass. Well I got to mumbling a few choice words and said to hell with it! I pulled out and passed all of them in one pass. By the time I cleared the line, I was doing well over a 100. I got lucky that no AGW was in the area or I would have gotten a beat down before being shown my new sleeping quarters for the evening. I’m amazed that I ever pulled that stunt today. Now I just turn off a side road these days to continue unhindered. The thrill and stupidity of youth!

  10. What drives me bugshit is if I am looking for a gap in cars to cross a median, you find a gap, get going to time yourself to scoot across behind the Galapagos tortoise in the Camry, he or she sees me and stomps on the brake! That closes the gap literally giving the driver- me no place to go!
    If the idiot though I was going to broadside them any half-brained driver would speed up to get out of way not slow down!

    Here in Florida we get a lot of the “Anything is safe is done slowly enough” crowd. I have seen them creep across 3 lanes in front of other cars going faster – maybe trigger a rear-end even on two other cars – but the idiot made it ok.

  11. I believe the reason people signal a turn drag it out at 10 mph make you come to a stop before they turn is because there is an 80% chance that person just shot heroin, engulfed oxy contin pills or took anti psycho drugs

  12. What? Are you driving in the Yukon or someplace where there are 2 or 3 other drivers? I am usually seeing the exact opposite. Maybe you should take a spin with my ex-girlfriend who can muster up enough G-force to pin you to the seat and that while driving through the city, and that with a Ford Flex. As a trained CDL driver, we were taught to drive in the right lane except to pass or where a left turn was required. If you are in the right lane and are in with a group of cars, forget about signaling to move into the left lane because everybody is speeding and tailgating as if protecting their space from invaders. In any event, automated cars are dumber and dumber and a purely Marxist idea designed to control the person.

  13. People signaling? Wow wouldn’t that be nice! When people signal around me now it is a sure sign they are from out of state or learned to drive elsewhere before moving to the state in which I live. Their intentions are apparently a state secret that are willing to take to the grave or a collision, whichever comes first.

  14. I have to admit that I like to stomp on the gas when I’m on the on-ramp with the Jetta. Listening to that little 4 cylinder crank up is a joy. Blending seamlessly with the freeway traffic almost feels like I’m dancing with the other cars. Scares the wife, though.

  15. Some time back I was on a lovely bendy, windy, country road (posted at 60) – but people driving 30…. Cant drive 55 came to mind – how the times have changed… back then I remember people not able to keep within the speed limit (as crappy as the cars were)…. NOW that they cant REACH 55 – the song has taken a new meaning…. NOT the one Hagar intended (or imagined possible)!!!!!

    • Hi Nasir!

      When I’m not driving a new car, I’m driving my old truck. It has no power and handles like the 18-year-old truck it is. I still outrun and outcorner practically every other car. It’s pathetic. Like an inflatable muscle suit or a bad toupee…

      • I may have told this story before but people are so pathetic behind the wheel of even the finest of vehicles. Many years ago I encountered the same person driving a then new Aston Martin Vantage. The first time I had my 1973 Maverick where I out accelerated and out cornered him just driving the way I usually operate that car. The second time was with my bicycle and again I out accelerated and out cornered him.

  16. Gotta chuckle. I practice a few of those tactics Eric derides, but not dumb ones such as stopping in the middle of the road to make a turn or taking forever to park. Living in a rural area allows me often to coast and take it easy on the brakes and clutch. Those are why I get around 180,000 miles to a clutch and set of brakes while my kids and wife burn them out 50-60,000 miles sooner. Ask me what my wife’s reaction is when I tell her that her style of driving is hard on the machinery.

    Of course I inconvenience no one when I do these things–I try to not be a jerk–so they only work when no one else is around. My driving skill is average, I suppose, but I do know how to drive a clutch to make it last.

    • Hi Ross!

      I sometimes drive slow also; but like my other aberrances, I do do my best to avoid visiting them upon the innocent 😉 And some of my aberrances improve the flow of traffic and extend the life of my clutch (18 years, 133k so far). As by not filly stopping at stop signs, taking advantage of the momentum to continue on my way. Roll up to it, in neutral (covering brakes) and (if clear of cross traffic and AGWs), ease the transmission into first, then gently ease out the clutch; done right, there’s a seamless . . . transmission (and probably almost no friction)!

      • Having lived in south Florida now for several years, I’ve gleaned two things of what the average Florida driver believes about vehicular law. First thing, turn signals are illegal. You do not ever use your turn signal to warn others of your intent to turn off the road or to change lanes. Do not look over your shoulder; just make your turn and if God is with you, the vehicle you just cut off has applied its brakes in time to avoid a collision.

        The second thing south Florida drivers believe is that ALL stop signs are yield signs. Hence, it is a rare sight to actually see a yield sign because they are not necessary if all stop signs are treated as yield signs.

        My favorite gripe about south Florida drivers (which include New Yorkers, New Jerseyites and Ottawaians) is it seems to be illegal when coming to a stop at a stop light, to actually have front tires stop behind the thick white line that most States, require one to stop behind. Here, one has their rear tires on or past the line and maybe have their front tires on the pedestrian cross-walk. This forces the person in the right-most lane, attempting to make a right turn, to dangerously put the nose of their car into the on-coming traffic lane in order to see around the jerk whose front tires (and, believer it or not, sometimes their back tires) rest on the pedestrian cross-walk.

      • eric, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve run a stop sign in a big rig with the DOT right behind me waiting for me to pull over. Never had one even mention not stopping. It seems it would speak for itself.

        I drive at least upper 70’s since the traffic, for the most part)travels that fast or faster. I’ve known of people getting stopped for not driving 75, must be drunk, high, carrying dope, etc.

        It’s not a good idea to drive slow in Texas. You can get RUNNOVER.

  17. Here in OKC, there seems to be a good mix of drivers, or it just seems that way because the Level of Service on surface streets is A or B at most. In Houston, it’s C-F a majority of the time. Level of service refers to the number of cars per lane mile. The thing is, except for anecdotal stories of high speed jaunts in the 1960s, little is really known about how people actually drove back then because traffic wasn’t heavy and it’s all about perception. I do believe that drivers are somewhat worse than they were 50 or 60 years ago, but I know that in the mid 1980s it was terrible on the freeways. 65-70 mph speeds is all they did, low, considering that 15 years earlier, speed limits were 15-20 mph higher. The only thing that bugs me on surface streets these days is when people take forever to make a frigging right turn. Or they hog the left or middle lanes for an eternity until they have to turn left. They never move over. That’s my biggest peeve for surface roads

  18. My car took more than 11 seconds to hit 60 when it was brand new – never mind the condition it’s in now.

    I still accelerate way faster than the vast majority of other drivers. It’s insane. The only ones I can’t outrun off a light are the ones who are actively trying to get in front of me.

  19. GM has a neat feature on my truck, maybe on others. But a quick signal blink by depressing the arm and releasing it blinks 3 times. Good for merging and changing lanes. Kind of a hassle to depress the turn signal all the way and sit and listen to it.

    People pay more attention to vehicle motion than blinky lights. Like the old football tackling technique is to pay attention to someones feet and direction and not their eyes. You can tell direction by how someone drives and their assumed aggressiveness and how fast they will merge also. A red blinking light does not convey this.

    • I think a lot of newer cars have that. My 2015 Ford Focus has the same thing, and I love it! It’s great for making lane changes or quick turns… 🙂

      • That depressed signal has been around since the 60’s, at least on GM vehicles. It may not have cause 3 blinks but I’d rather have a simple blinker control that one that was tied to some control that could fail(and they will eventually). I touch my brake, not enough to actually brake but enough to light up the brake lights. Everybody behind you will begin to move over to the other lane, esp. when you hold your signal down for a few seconds.

  20. Well, back around 1970 when I started driving, CO law was that you were supposed to signal for a specified number of feet before turning or changing lanes. Now I can’t remember the exact number(s) but I think there was a lesser and greater minimum under and over a certain speed.

    Of course that was back in the days when turning on your signal usually meant that other drivers would make room for you to change lanes. These days it means that they will immediately speed up to close the gap that you were aiming for.

    Also, I never understood the habit of racing up to a red light and slamming on the brakes. I let off the gas and it’s usually green just as I get there, or else I pull up beside the car that raced past me a few blocks back – LOL

    One of my early jobs included driving around (can’t spell that ch- word anymore!) various bigwigs with the company. They didn’t like to have their necks snapped around 😉

    • HI Anon,

      “Also, I never understood the habit of racing up to a red light and slamming on the brakes. I let off the gas and it’s usually green just as I get there, or else I pull up beside the car that raced past me a few blocks back – LOL”.

      See my comment below. You don’t have to race up to a light, but maintaining speed, and a reasonable gap between you and the car directly in front of you, is far more considerate to drivers trying to turn onto, or across, the road from a side street. If you coast up to a red light, you will often eliminate the natural gaps that occur when people maintain traffic flow until they need to brake, forcing those turning to wait one or two more traffic cycles. This is especially annoying when trying to turn left, across traffic.

      Cheers,
      Jeremy

  21. I think lousy driving boils down to selfishness then dumbness. The offending driver gives not a whit about anyone but himself.
    Same goes for the peanut heads driving slow in the left lane. Our local Sheriff is ticketing them for that foolishness now and of course it’s racisssssss.
    The thing I don’t like about driving is that the slowest, dumbest person on the road sets the pace for everyone else.

    I’m pretty sure the absolute WORST drivers in America are in Charlotte NC. The place they really haul ass is in Cincinnati OH and Atlanta GA. Honest to golly I was doing 90 in the middle lane at 6PM on a weekday on I-71 in Cincinnati with traffic! It was awsome!

    • Hey Auric
      “The thing I don’t like about driving is that the slowest, dumbest person on the road sets the pace for everyone else. ”

      The same thing seems to occur in the political realm…..

      • The drivers I can’t stand are the ones that brake before approaching an uphill grade. Hey, why not gain a little speed before you hit it, even though you’ll be a few MPHs above the speed limit?

      • Ain’t it the truth! That’s why our founding fathers limited the vote to white, male landowners. Although that horse left the barn years ago I think the vote should be limited to those who don’t get a direct payment from Uncle. In about 1 generation the politicians the voters install would be penny pinching bean counters not charlatan vote buyers and trial lawyers.

        • Amen, Auric!

          If we can’t get rid of taxes entirely, at least limit the power to tax to those who must pay the taxes. In effect, make them tax themselves. And end the practice of permitting those who don’t pay the power to make others pay.

          That’ll cure most of what ails us!

        • I had just the one founding father. He was born 1938.

          The rest of those paps smeared through the pages of “history” books had – & could have – nada to do.

          “It takes a village” is generally? recognized to be corrupt “virtue” signaling. ((Maybe “it takes an orgy\gangbang” x-rates — removes all the camouflage — the perspective?))

          Yet & still does it slipslide its penetrationg lube way into all kinds of trespasses.

          Paupers in rags to princely possessor “owners” of the globe got nada to dictate to me by virtue of their accumulated accoutrements.

          Have read that taxes tripled immediately upon those local pap smears supplanting that distant one. & it only got worse from there.

          All of which stark relief’s what an outlier ol’ Oedipus is.

          & why the “tree” – hell, is it ever more than a patch of ground cover? – of liberty desiccates & dusts away.

          Not to mention clarifies the motivations of that word smiter who self-preservingly substituted “tyrant” for “patriarch.”

          Not enough sons, let alone daughters, kill the fathers even metaphorically, let alone literally when called for.

          Instead, faux rites of passage are “self-preservingly” – arrested development’ly – substituted.

          Ye old pap smears was the billionaires boys club of their day. If you think billionaires was any less bilious, any less bogus, then than now, you ain’t thinkin’ at all (‘cept maybe magically…which don’t count).

          But, not much short circuits synapses quicker than then\now, as BJ sang about.

  22. There’s a road near my house I take going to work, it’s 45

    God forbid anyone can read, they’d actually be going 50 instead of 35.

    Once in a blue moon, I’ll get lucky and be the lead car, or someone will interpret that me flashing them means pull aside so I can pass

  23. A cop stopped me and said, “Do you know the speed limit is 55 miles an hour?” I told him I wasn’t going to out that long.

  24. Thanks,,, this article was good for some laughs even though it is kind of sad.

    The other day we had a break in weather and decided to take our motor for a ride. Man, it was painful. They would slow down and creep to stop at a red. Then move forward a few feet, then stop , then….. This is fine unless your double up on a 800 pound m/c. Also if I notice the light has changed to green I’ll slow poke enough where the cars ahead start to go so I don’t have to stop and put my feet down but lately they seem to want 4 or 5 car lengths before moving. I had to yell at the car in front ” You can go now” as my bike,,, like a top was about to fall over. Most of the time they’re fiddling with their Istupid things and/or not paying attention. I’ve seen them driving with their knees so they could text, fill their coffee mug or other more important things than driving.

    But I do disagree that people are driving like pre 1980. Yes they capped top speed to 55 but many were pushing that to 65-70. I remember in the 1960s going from Barstow to Vegas on I-15 doing well over 100 with people passing. God, those were the days!

    We also knew how to signal. As you probably know, back in the day we had to signal using our arm. Yes putting your arm out the window indicating your turn or your slowing down and steering with only one hand on the wheel. Can you just imagine the comedy (and tragedy) if that had to be done today.

    • A couple of my toys have no signals- so I hand signal. Almost nobody knows what I’m doing- they assume a right turn is some kind of a retard parade wave…

    • I hate how folks in America pull out from green lights, period. In Italy (at least when I was there), soon as the light changes, the whole PACK goes! Say there’s a line of 10 cars at the light; soon as it goes green, everyone was hitting the gas and moving out at once. IOW, if you pull out from a light American style (i.e. wait for the car ahead of you to move), you’ll get rear ended…

      • There have been countless studies done to determine the safest way to get traffic moving. Everyone hitting the gas hard at the same time is simply going to cause wrecks, esp. if the first in line is slow getting away. I guess people hauling heavy trailers with pickups should change to slicks when they get to town. Maybe a transmission brake too so when the light goes green you’ve just hit the release at about a 4000 rpm stall. It would sell so many driveline parts.

        • I guess most of the time I still drive like I am in a truck and/or pulling a trailer. Let off the gas and hope the light turns green before you get there so you don’t have to get going from a complete stop.

          But I can boost it if I really need to in order to get out into traffic without waiting all day. The straight-six awd jeep can beat almost anything 0-30.

          • Yeah Anon, it’s a habit. I constantly, without even thinking about it, slow and wait for the traffic to clear and then go through a stop sign like I’m hauling a load. I think I replace brakes less then anyone I’ve known.

  25. Even more frustrating is the slow driver who, upon seeing you attempting to pass, will decide to speed up. Soon a “safe” speed to pass becomes a pedal-to-the-metal all out race. Or the passer who gets up to your rear quarter panel and… matches your speed. In the passing lane. So now not only are they not passing, they’re blocking the coal-rollers behind who have an urgent need to get to the job site. I check my speed and yep, it’s right where the cruise was set 50 miles ago. So I slow down. Usually that will force them to pass. Sometimes they continue to match. If they continue I’ll sometimes (after checking to make sure no one is behind me), slow way down to 45 MPH to get them out away from me.

    Hell is other drivers.

    • I will get to a clear straight stretch and pull over to the white line to let the driver that’s been tailgating for several miles pass. But they don’t! They will just stay back there and sometimes pull over too. I think if I pulled off the road they would pull off and stop behind me! Then coming up on a curve at the end of the straight they will all of a sudden decide to pass Right Now! I guess it was no challenge before … 😉

    • RK,

      Another move I like is a driver who passes you, then slows down! If I see someone behind me wanting to pass, I’ll hold my speed and let ’em go. When they slow down, I’m like WTF?! Why did you pass me only to go SLOWER than me? What’s up with that?

      • Or … you’re out on a stretch of mostly empty interstate, and somebody passes you and then pulls back over into the right lane ten feet in front of you!

        • You should drive a big rig and feel the love. I had a woman with kids in the car do that 4 times to be in a loaded 18 wheeler. The last time when she pulled back in she was right on top of the exit she wanted. Not only did I nearly run over her but she nearly lost it trying to get across and make the exit. I promise you, I don’t play games on the road, esp, a light vehicle vs a big rig.

  26. Morning Eric,

    “People also take forever to stop.

    They’ll crawl up to the sign and practically put the thing in Park before proceeding”.

    Our Ur-Clover once bragged about doing precisely this, noting that it “saves” gas and doesn’t slow HIM down. He was unmoved when I pointed out that it’s extremely inconsiderate to drivers waiting to turn onto, or across, the road from a side street, who often have to wait for another complete traffic cycle because some slow moseying Clovers filled in all the gaps that were there, but for the Clovers.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

    • Hey Jeremy,

      I noticed in Missouri the drivers move to the oncoming lane at full speed and then slow down to make a left turn out in the country.

      I never witnessed that in Michigan.

      Have you?

      • Hey Tuanorea,

        No, I don’t remember that. The biggest difference I’ve noticed about New Mexico drivers vs Michigan drivers is that NM drivers don’t know how to turn left at a green light without a dedicated arrow. NM drivers will sit in the left turn lane without entering the intersection or angling their car to the left. Michigan drivers, at least when I lived there, would enter the intersection and angle their car to the left, allowing them to see oncoming traffic in the innermost lane, and allowing the driver waiting to turn left from the opposite direction to do the same. If a driver sits in the left turn lane, without entering the intersection or angling their car, it makes it almost impossible to see oncoming traffic in the innermost lane.

        This is extremely annoying and “unsafe”. It also prevents the driver from making a left turn as the light turns yellow (of course, being aware of whether oncoming traffic will stop). This, of course, slows everyone down as it prevents one or two cars from safely turning left, increasing the conga line in the left turn lane. If memory serves, I was taught to turn left the Michigan way in my required drivers Ed course.

        Cheers,
        Jeremy

        • I’ve been ticketed in Colorado for a red light infraction, doing what you describe, being out in the intersection waiting for an opening, which doesn’t come until after the yellow light has passed.

          • Turning your wheels left while waiting to make a left turn will get you bumped out into oncoming traffic if someone hits you from behind.

            I sorta know about this because I was in one of those oncoming vehicles about 50 years ago. My back still hurts 🙁

        • When making a left turn, the oncoming traffic has right of way. Also, if rear ended, it’s better to have the wheels straight; otherwise, when you’re hit, you’ll turn wherever the wheels are pointing.

          • Hi Mark,

            I know oncoming traffic has right of way, the point is being able to see it. When a car turning left from the other direction just sits at the front of the lane, it completely blocks sight of the innermost lane. As for the wheels, you don’t need to be angled much and you can keep your wheels straight. If both cars do this, it is not necessary to be far into the intersection so that both cars can see everything easily. Also, your car is never in the opposing lane of traffic until you cross it. Anyway, it may have changed, but when I grew up in Michigan, we were taught to turn left this way, as it is safer.

            As for getting hit from behind, I’m talking about turning left from a dedicated left turn lane, not a traffic lane. I have never seen anyone hit from behind while in one of these.

            Cheers,
            Jeremy

      • T, I do that when traffic is on my ass and no one is coming at me. It makes sense to get out where they won’t rear-end you. If there is traffic coming, I’ll pull over on the shoulder while braking and let everyone around. I had a 20 mile haul last 4th of July week and I could have collected 3 or 4 vehicles every turn if I hadn’t gone onto the shoulder. 8 loads and I was worn out from trying to drive for everyone else.

        • The two lane that we turn off of onto our county road is narrow with absolutely no shoulders. It’s a steep bank down into the ditch, and our road doesn’t cross, just makes a T at the highway. You can’t see a long ways ahead either, but if there’s someone behind me I will get over in the oncoming lane at the last minute if I’m coming from the east just so they don’t have to slow down so much. Coming from the west making a right turn you have no choice but to slow right down to make the turn.

          I do put on my signal way ahead of time so someone behind me can start waking up and getting ready. Or better yet slow down back where they can pass and just get rid of them. It’s at least a mile or two between roads turning off (we’re in a pretty crowded part of Montana – ha!).

          • Even the road I live on has a steep hill with a grade on both sides. I saw my first wreck there when I was 10 but it certainly wasn’t the last. You sometimes live in a place you have to get to identify vehicles due to careless driving.

    • Situational awareness wil solve most such issues easily. WHen NO ONE ELSE is around to be bothered by it I wilkl lift up off the throttle treadle and coast up to the light. When I see others truing ti cross/enter the road I am on, I will change what I do to accomodate them.
      Part of the problem is every driver these days seems to drive like they’re the only one on the road, so I’l do what I like, thanks all the same, and you can go have a nice whinge.
      My earliest drivng years were spent in So Cal, mostly Orange County with significant time in Riverside County. It was still pretty rural back then. Lots of long straight flat roads, with crossing roads ad mile intervals.. a square mile grid system. Most of those intersections were four way stop signs Early on in my driving they were rather intimidating.. It was really a masterfully coordinated dance. The two crossing cars would start at the same instant, cross, as soon as they were IN the intersection the corssing pair would start, move acorss the monty lane, and cut behind the first pair leaving only a coule feet, Then pair three, etc. Those intersections were faster than today’s signal controlled intersections. EVERYONE was wide awake and paying attention (no i-screens those days) and probably 75% of the cars were manual gearbox models. EVERYONE was in a hurry to get to work, and attentive to the matter of doing that.
      Drivers back then paid attention to everything around them.

      I think it was early 1980’s, after being away for a couple of decades I ended up driving my big rig into and back out of LA a few times. Things had changed. Before, when someone would flip on their signal to make a lane change, the guy behind in the lane being moved into would ease off just a touch, perhaps even flash main beams to say “I see you, come on in”. But driving that tractor and dryvan I nearly missed a couple of major interchanges, because I could NOT get over fast enough. I’d see a hole coming up behind, put on the signal, the jerks would punch it and close the hole, the one behind would close the gap, and I’d be trapped, slowing down, making more of a scene, crowding the line and getting honked at, flashed, and I’m sure flipped off. After a few near misses, I changed my tactics. Since I figured most of the drivers are tunnel vision bored into the car behind them, and that the signal was an attention getter, I started identifying my hole as it approached from several cars back…. began to ease right up TO the line, get the back of the dryvan even with the hole, BEGIN moving over, THEN as my steering tyre hit the line bumps, put on the flasher. I was laready over before the semi-comatose sap I was pulling in front of was already behind me.TOO LATE PACO. That strategy worked well.

  27. Hi Eric,

    I cannot completely agree with you. A lot depends upon the road system…urban, rural or metro. Also depends on the region of the country, and the time of day.

    For instance, if you’re outbound on I-60 in the east Phoenix region during evening rush hour, you better be going at least 75-85mph…..or else stay in the Far Right lane! The DPS will give speeders a grace margin up to only 72mph, but that doesn’t seem to matter to most drivers. They feel the safety of a very big, fast moving school of fish. Not likely to get singled out unless you’re running close to 90.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yep – some areas are better than others – but this Cult of Caution is growing. And not just on the roads. The entire country is being dragged down into Gimphood by the growing number of gimps.

      I think I may take the TA out for a burnout today!

      • When / If you do you get someone to film it and post a really good burnout….. Only AGW’s are allowed to do it these enlightened days. On the other hand,,, better not. The police these days, in the land of the free, can probably ticket you just watching the video.

        • make sure you wear a full face mask and remove or cover the number plates. They might identify the car, but wihout eyes on YOU putting YOU into THAT car as THIS date, time, specific locaion, they have no case.

          Do it in some not easily identifiable area. No mie markers, road signs, billboards, etc.

      • Post a pic or better yet an iPhone video! Caption it “An environmental damage caused by cars study to heal the planet” That way SJWs and Hutters may think you are on their side. Or just fuzz out the license plate. 🙂

      • Most of the driving annoyances disappear after about 8 pm here in retirement land (Florida). The only remaining problem is avoiding the temptation of late night racers with my “sleeper”.

      • Cars used to mean something, freedom. Pontiac GTOs with 4 barrel carburetors on a 389 cubic inch V8, Ford Mustangs with 289 cubic inch V8s, Chevy SS machines with a 396. You could work on cars, tune ’em up, patch,em up, soup’em up. Fun, freedom, manhood.

        Now the cars are just “transportation” for a bunch of gender confused pussies who spend all their time playing video games and jerking off.

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