People who drive like they have a freakin' deathwish...why?

This last workweek I was at a workshop for people in my office and in two other locations (both East of the Mississippi) who work under the same supervisor. The location was a major metro area in one of the states of the former Confederacy. We only had two minivans to accommodate more than a dozen people all told, not individual cars, which meant that the budget for meals/entertainment while there could be greater.

I’m not a fan of driving in strange cities while a disembodied voice tells me where to go so I wasn’t among the drivers. As a consequence I was treated to a couple of freeway trips as a passenger that I can only describe as harrowing, due to the speeds people in general were driving at in heavy traffic (when the speed limit sign says 70 mph they apparently believe it’s a minimum) but combined with that the ridiculous tailgating the guy driving our vehicle was engaging in. I’m talking maybe 1.5 to 2 car lengths MAX behind the vehicle in front while literally doing 75. WTF.

It wasn’t just our vehicle in that situation but the one in front and about five or six more ahead of that one. Any false move or miscalculation by anyone around us and we’d all be dead or seriously maimed. And this guy driving was someone who should know better, in his mid-late 50’s, not some 25 year old who thinks he’s immortal. Is it the adrenaline or something that guys like this get off on and need to make their lives worth living (it doesn’t help that this particular guy looks like the saddest dude among all of us)? I don’t get it. I sure didn’t appreciate it, and couldn’t wait for an excuse to make all future freeway trips with another driver at the wheel.

IMHO, even if you are going 75, if you are in the fast lane and there is a huge gap in front of you, it’s your duty to move over and let people pass. It’s safer for everyone.

I think you mentioned that there were cars in front of you however.

I will say that this is part cultural. You and I currently reside in the same metro, but I spent most of my life in Chicago.

Let me tell you, people Denver and east drive faster than our wet corner of the world. In fact our area is the only place I’ve had prolonged exposure where people regularly drive under the speed limit on highways.

Now I don’t doubt that there was some erratic driving by your driver, but I bet he’d be equally annoyed by people driving 45-50 in a 60 zone on our roads, a not infrequent part of my daily commute!

Back in Chicago my style is laid back, and I stick to the middle lanes mostly. But here? I am seemingly the fastest guy on the road.

We weren’t necessarily in the left lane most of the time. I wouldn’t have minded if we’d been going 75 with tons of free lane ahead of us. It was doing so while we were following the car/SUV/truck at much less than a safe following distance (which for the record, with dry pavement, should be a “one one thousand, two one thousand” count after the lead vehicle passes a given spot on the highway-- making it a time-based thing takes the guesswork out).

It’s one thing if a person wants to drive like a maniac when he’s alone in the car, but with six or seven passengers, eff that noise.

People who drive under the limit (or even the limit if they’re in the damned passing lane) annoy the crap out of me too. But tailgaters piss me off SO MUCH, particularly if I’m the passenger in the vehicle doing the tailgating. I know this because I used to follow too close in city traffic and it bit me in the ass: I once had to brake super hard and didn’t hit the car ahead of me, but the dude behind me was distracted/playing on his phone/whatever and plowed right into my car’s rear end. Luckily my car was a modern one and the speed of the impact was not crazy (maybe 20 mph after the panic braking), so I wasn’t injured in any way–but the car spent a month and a day in the shop.

When a crash like that happens at city traffic speeds, you have a chance of coming out of it without injury. It’s quite another thing when it happens on the highway doing 65/70 or above-- it’s just physics. Add to that the fact that on the freeway the vehicle behind you might be an 18-wheeler pulling two or three trailers and you see the problem.

But I get what you’re saying about the driving culture east of the Rockies. We were at another workshop in a big Midwestern city a couple years ago and people there all seemed to drive 70 or more in situations where that was taking your life in your hands.

Tailgaters are bad. It’s like they are trying to intimidate the car ahead of them. It’s very annoying when people are already going 5 MPH over the limit.

What I taught my kids was that when you speed for an urban drive, you are only shaving a couple of minutes off the length of your drive in most cases, so it’s dumb.

I’ll tell you, though, U.S. drivers are nothing compared to what we saw in Italy in Rome. Jesus, they tailgate, weave in out of lanes, scooters and motorcycles zoom by you in the area between two lanes or on the shoulder. It’s harrowing. I wouldn’t be able to drive in Rome. I think you have to grow up with it to handle it.

Heh, I believe you about Rome, but I bet it isn’t as bad as what I saw in Lima, Perú in 2011. Lane markers there are treated as mere suggestions and a 4-lane road will typically have 6 lanes of cars moving along with sometimes less than a foot separating a car from those on either side. Needless to say though, at least in that situation the traffic is moving very slowly and there’s a whole informal system of little honks and signals to painstakingly negotiate lane changes. It’s kinda fun to watch if you forget about all the exhaust fumes you’re breathing.

Sort of related: Why the hell do people take exits from the middle lanes? There is no traffic in the right lane, and the guy in the middle lane casually takes the exit from his lane.

Don’t worry. The extra people in the vehicle mean better stopping power and less risk when going 75mph+.

(I’m lying. Your coworker is a jerk.)

I’ve seen tailgater instant karma in person before.

Was driving south on 280 in SF to a client’s in SJ, I was in the fast lane in my Mustang GT and it was just dumping rain. I noticed these two cars practically racing in and out of the fast lane in my rear view mirror and calmly pulled over a lane and let them do whatver the fuck they were doing.

About a mile or two on down the road, the lead driver had apparently slammed on his brakesand submarined a flatbed truck with his hood about 3/4 buried under the flatbed.

His buddy had then hit the lead driver’s car and ended up about 80% on top of it.

I think they survived, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m just glad I didn’t even think about trying to stay in front of them with how idioitcally they were driving in horrible conditions, and I remember it a lot, as I do tend to drive about 5-10 mph over the limit when I’m in the fast lane (when conditions are good).

Tailgating is the dumbest shit ever. Talk about marginal gain vs assumed risk.

Gain: Maybe you get the person in front of you to move over a lane, so you can go tailgate the next person in front of you. Ultimately you may get where you’re going five minutes before you otherwise would have.

Risk: Death, dismemberment, impoverishment.

Cost: Blood pressure.

Calm the fuck down, ya weirdos. If you were driving somewhere that fucking time-critical, you’d have a light bar on your vehicle.

I always move over when someone tailgates me. I’ll even pull off the road to let them pass. It’s not worth my blood pressure or the risk to my life and property. What gets me is when I’m stuck behind some massive rig on a one-lane highway with no way to pass. We’re going 30 mph in a 55 zone and he passes turnout after turnout after turnout.

@Papageno, did you ask your coworker to back off? I know that can be hard in a social situation like that, but I tend to say something like “Sorry man, you’re making me really uncomfortable with how close you are to that guy. It’s probably just me, but I’m having a hard time here.” I try to make it about me, so it doesn’t come out like a judgement on their driving (which it totally is. They’re driving like a nut.)

I was past the point of being all clever like that (I was seriously but quietly freaking out) but I finally said something like “We’re going mighty fast here, could we please slow down?*” Don’t know if he even heard me, since I was on the right in the third row of seats. Didn’t do much good if he did.

*Again, we were going upwards of 70 mph with maybe 1.5 car lengths between us and numerous vehicles in front-- no attempt to drop back had been made over at least a minute or two. Also the lanes on either side had pretty heavy traffic as well.

Honestly I don’t understand how there aren’t more multi-car pileups on those routes.

Different places have different norms. On LA freeways, if you leave any more than 1.1 car length gap, someone will move into it. If you back off again from them, someone new moves into that gap. Theoretically, you will never reach your destination. (I do not live in LA, I’m sure some LA native might dispute my version of their driving)

One of my pet peeves is the freeway tailgater who is clearly trying to convince you to move over, but there is endless traffic ahead. How much faster does he think he is going to get where he is going?

My daily commute is entirely surface streets. I get a perverse enjoyment by driving at no more than the speed limit or + a couple mph and someone zooms past me two, or even more, different times. Happens pretty often, because I know which lane is more likely to back up at different points in the drive. Very much the tortoise and the hare.

Oh yeah I love it when someone behind me is impatient and swerves around me and zooms away, and 30 seconds later I pull up next to him at a red light.

One of the weirdest driving things that ever happened to me was I was on the highway and I see a guy coming up behind me fast. He swerves around me and goes right up behind another car, and then frustrated because he’s stuck with no open lane, he goes on the shoulder to get around that car.

I was mad seeing that, thinking where are the police when you need them to pull over a crazy unsafe driver! And then about 15 seconds later two police cars blaze by me. I realized then I had been in the middle of a car chase without knowing it.

Here in Ontario, there is a plague of bad drivers; non-signalers, tailgaters, red-light runners, etc. My biggest peeve are the left-lane hogs on the 400-series highways.

Admittedly, I tend to drive a little faster than most, my preferred cruising speed on the highway is 120 kph, with the occasional up-tick to 129 depending on ambient traffic. That should allow me a smooth drive in the left lane.

But, there’s so many bad drivers cruising at 105 or 110 in the left and centre lanes, so I find myself having to spend most of my highway drive in the rightmost lane. And then, when you invariable come up to the nervous driver at 90/95, I have to move into the centre lane to pass. To some, this might make me a reckless driver, “swerving” in and out of traffic. If slower traffic actually kept to the right, it wouldn’t be a problem.

I had a similar incident commuting to work on a highway. Traffic was heavy but moving although a little below the speed limit. In my rear view mirror, I can see a guy aggressively weaving through traffic, and generally driving like an impatient idiot. I was in the middle lane of three lanes. He comes up the right lane and swooshes in right behind me cutting off the car behind me; switches to the left lane and the cuts right back in front of me before moving into the right lane where there was a larger gap of traffic. “Where’s a cop when you…” And then the car he had cut off behind me lit up like a Christmas tree. It was an unmarked police cruiser.

" There are men in this world who go about demanding to be killed. They argue in gambling games; they jump out of their cars in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender. These people wander through the streets calling out “Kill me, kill me.”

I guess we add “drive at 70 MPH, 5 feet behind the car in front - willing them to pull over”.

Actually the strangest case of tailgating I ever saw was someone following behind my on a slippery winter road. I was in the rightmost of 3 lanes and driving at 80 kph on a 100 kph road due to the terrible road surface. The road is practically abandoned. Guy comes up in minivan a couple meters behind me and starts flashing his lights at me to clear the lane. I am already in the rightmost lane. He wants me to move over into the more slippery parts of the road so he doesn’t have to when he passes me…

After 5 minutes of this I decide that my life is in more danger with him behind me, so I move left and he zooms on by. I guess he got what he wanted. Hopefully he didn’t kill his passengers.

Do you guys see people who have decided that a u turn on a red light is ok? I think they’re thinking it’s some kind of variant of the right on red rule, but I see it about once a month. Every time it’s just me going “WHy???!???!???!???!?!?!?!?”

Edit: Also discourse stops you from typing more than three question marks in a row? Fuckin weird. I guess we need more and more hand-holding these days.

The Fresno area has built a series of freeways over the last 30 years. Until then there was just decrepit Highway 99 running thru the west edge of town. As the freeway system was built (3 different freeways which more or less all connect in one area) the local drivers went from basically your small town drive the limit or slower drivers to where now the basic speed is 5 miles over the limit. With this has come the guys (and gals) who think speed limits are only recomendations. I have never understood the need to risk your life and others in order to arrive someplace 5 minutes sooner.

I get off work at 11:30PM and it isn’t unusual for me to see cars stop at a red light, and then proceed. Or make a left turn from the right lane.