Dear Car Talk:
My wife and I have differing opinions on how fast to drive. I think driving 5-7 mph under a speed limit is not being discourteous to other drivers. I also like to drive slower when approaching a signal.
Your column is awesome; I look forward to reading it every week. — Richard
Buttering me up won’t help you today, Richard (but please do try it again in the future). I have to side with your wife.
If you’re able to drive at the speed limit and do so safely, that’s what you should do. I’d never criticize anyone for driving at the speed limit, even though many people drive faster than that. But I don’t recommend being the guy moseying along at 23 in a 30 zone. It is discourteous to drivers behind you, especially on a road where people can’t legally or easily pass you.
You may be in no hurry whatsoever. You may be retired. You may be enjoying the sounds of the birds singing and your wife complaining about your driving. But most people aren’t in that situation and get frustrated behind someone who appears to be slowing down traffic on a shared, public road for no reason.
While it would be nice to live in a world where everybody slows down and enjoys scenery more, in this world your driving behavior leads to tailgating, road rage and potentially dangerous behavior in other drivers, like trying to pass you while flipping you the bird at the same time.
There also are studies that show that speed differential leads to collisions on highways. So if you’re going 48 mph and someone else is driving 62, that’s a recipe for a crash, regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong.
Now, if you simply feel like you can’t drive safely when doing the speed limit, then it’s time to consider whether you should still be driving at all. And whether it’s time to enjoy the passenger seat and let your wife do the driving. I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, Richard, but it happens to everyone at some point. At least think about it honestly. You don’t want to get to the point where your wife is renting a car and meeting you at the supermarket.
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