Silent Archimedes

People in the South drive so slow… or people in the Northeast drive so fast

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 14, 2008

Being in the northeast my whole life, I never understood why people said drivers from New York or New Jersey are rude and crazy drivers. It seemed like pretty normal driving to me. If a light turns green and you see the driver not paying attention, you honk them. The horns are there for a reason. If you are on a multi-lane highway and there’s some slow car in the left lane, there’s an unwritten rule that you can pressure him to switch to the right by tailgating him. And if you are the slower driver you respect that the left lane is either for fast drivers or for passing cars.

Well, I am starting to realize this type of driving is more reserved for the northeast. After my trip to Atlanta was coming to a close, I decided to make the 11-hour drive up to Baltimore in one day yesterday. I started out at 11am and hoped to make it back to Baltimore by midnight. I took the most obvious path, north on route 85 until it merges with route 95 at Richmond. The 8-hour drive on route 85 was the most frustrating drive I have ever driven in a non-busy highway. Route 85 is mostly a  70mph 2-lane highway where during the day  almost half the vehicles are 18-wheelers. Usually on a 2-lane highway with trucks, the biggest nuisance is when slow trucks try to pass slower trucks on the left lane, thus causing a temporary bottleneck. However, most drivers respect the trucks because we respect what they do and well, because the drivers are not intimidated by our much smaller vehicles. Additionally, truck drivers respect the etiquette of the road and will usually switch back to the right lane as soon as possible. Even the slower truck on the right lane will help out by letting the truck pass him.

Route 85

Route 85 - Nikon D40X

On route 85, especially in the North Carolina corridor, regular cars will drive at slow speeds (usually below speed limit) on the left lane with no regard to how many cars are piled up behind them. Additionally you can’t pass them on the right because they are going at just the speed where it is too dangerous to pass on the right with so many 18-wheelers keeping you in check. You shouldn’t pass on the right anyways. No matter how much you tail them, they continue to drive in their slow deliberate speeds. Now some people might say, what’s the rush, take your time. I’m sure a lot the southern drivers that saw my northeast license plate probably considered me rude. But the problem is you should drive at the speed you are comfortable. If you are forced to drive much slower, studies have shown it’s a very difficult thing to do and usually leads to more problems than necessary. That’s why the autobahn in Germany causes much less accidents because people are all driving at their comfort speeds.

I am usually a very safe driver but when I am really focused on my driving, especially knowing I had to cover 700 miles in one day, I am on a mission. There is no time to waste. Rest times are planned in. Music loudness is reduced. Coffee is used to keep me at optimum alertness. There is no fooling around.

Hmmm, maybe I need to relax a bit more. Should’ve just taken two days to drive it, and drove 50 mph all the time.

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