Trained To Self-Destruct

Commuting on Maryland freeways I normally put the car on cruise control right at the speed limit, and stay about 150 yards behind the car in front of me. There is no point speeding because you will get pulled over and you will hit a traffic jam further up the road.

What I find is that many cars pass me, and then pull their Prius (or other small piece of crap car) back into my lane only 10-15 feet in front of my SUV. The only reason I can think of to do this, is a death wish. Does anyone believe that a car going 60 MPH can stop in 10 feet?


About stevengoddard

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48 Responses to Trained To Self-Destruct

  1. Truthseeker says:


    I have found that when I compare my speedometer to my GPS, that the speedometer understates the speed by about 3%. So I set my cruise control accordingly.

    Bad drivers forget that it not the people in front of them that are likely to kill them, it is the people behind them.

  2. Send Al to the Pole says:

    Traffic is obnoxious over there on the East Coast. I lived many years in southern CA and didn’t mind the style of driving there – which is 75 mph bumper to bumper but everyone knows to keep moving. They’re bumper to bumper because the freeway is chock full. Some spectacular pileups. But in the NE, I thought it was just obnoxious. A lot of nasty maneuvers that were pointless.

    • B says:

      The problem in the US is a lack of lane discipline, or disciplined driving in general. Most of which we can thank Nixon’s 55mph NMSL for. So we ended up with people turning on their cruise control at the PSL in the passing lane. With idiots in government saying this made the roads safer.

      I’ll take crowded autobahn over an interstate any time.

      • _Jim says:


        The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was a bill in the U.S. Congress that enacted the National Maximum Speed Law. States had to agree to the limit if they desired to receive federal funding for highway repair.</b The uniform speed limit was signed into law by President Nixon on January 2, 1974, and became effective 60 days later, by requiring the limit as a condition of each state receiving highway funds, a use of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
        – – – – – – –
        Enacted as Public Law 93-239, and known as "Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act"

        Sponsor: Rep Howard, James J. [NJ-3] (introduced 11/8/1973)
        Rep Cleveland, James C. [NH-2] – 1/3/1973
        Rep Snyder, M. G. (Gene) [KY-4] – 1/3/1973


        From John Flaherty:
        – The states had different ways of enforcing the law
        o Tickets up to $500 dollars for speeding (New York)
        o $5-15 dollar “energy wasting fines” (Nevada, Arizona)
        o Nevada eventually disregarded the law and posted speed limits up to 70 MPH

        Note how new York made full use of that law to assess a huge penalty on their citizens or anyone else travelling though their state; Bronx cheers for them.

  3. B says:

    Cars don’t stop instantaneously so at no time does one have to stop within any given following distance. It would be 10 feet plus whatever it takes the Prius driver to stop.

    My solution was to simply have better brakes than nearly everyone else.

    • Crashex says:

      “at no time does one have to stop within any given following distance.”
      –Wrong. If the car ahead of you is slowed or stopped by an impact that’s the only distance available.

      “It would be 10 feet plus whatever it takes the Prius driver to stop.”
      –Wrong again. You skipped the fact that you will require some time to perceive the brake lights ahead, decide to brake and react to apply the brakes. This Perception, Decision, Response (PDR) time of an alert driver averages about 1.2 seconds; about 0.4 seconds of that is moving your foot from the accelerator to the brake. You are NOT as fast as you think you are. If you tailgate, you are completely relying on the fact that statistically a driver does not have to slam on the brakes very often. If you are tailgating and the driver ahead applies the brakes hard for some reason, you will likely strike the car ahead even before you get the brakes applied.

      If you follow closer than 2 seconds behind the car ahead you are a fool.

      My expert testimony in such matters has been paying my bills for 20 years.

      • Gail Combs says:

        I generally watch the car ahead pass a fixed point like a road sign and count 1001, 1002… for 60 miles an hour the count goes up to 1006. ie 1 sec per 10 miles of speed.

        I hate tailgaters. I have permanent neck damage from the idiots who smashed into me when I was sitting at a red light not once but three times! SC, NY and MA. The first time I was driving a pregnant rollerskate and it ended up looking like an accordion. After that I have driven Pk-ups or decent sized cars.

      • Tim Hammond says:

        Except that on a freeway, cars still don’t stop instantly.

        Your arguments only work if a car in front goes from xmph to zero in a very short time without the driver behind having any idea that it can happen.

        But walls don’t suddenly pop up. And many expert witnesses have sent innocent people to jail.

        • In a head on collision, cars stop instantly.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Tim, you forget that FIRST you have to register the fact that the car in front is actually slowing down and then your brain has to process the information And FINALLY you hit the brakes.

          I put my VW under an oil delivery truck because the guys brake and signal lights were not working and he suddenly stopped halfway down a steep hill to make a left turn. I did not register his change in speed because the hill made it very difficult to judge our relative speeds especially after just cresting the top of the hill. (And no I was not tailgating.)

  4. gator69 says:

    Around here the only road hogs are, well, hogs on the road. Thank God I no longer commute to the city, my sanity has been saved. The citiots can do as they please.

    • Around here it might be horses, cows, bison, mule wagons, farm equipment, bicycle riders, or runners but I agree with your point. I would not willingly live in “the big city”. Keep it small, open, and green with air you can safely breath. Nearly everything you need to do can either be done over the internet or locally.

  5. Sean says:

    Driving the speed limit in Maryland? Surely you are joking. People have gotten tickets for obstructing traffic in Maryland if you drive the speed limit in the fast lane. In the 35 years I’ve lived here, they seem to give latitude if you just stay within 10 mph of the speed limit on the freeways particularly if you are in a generic family type vehicle.

    • On the ICC I see at least 10 cars pulled over every day.

      • Sean says:

        I’ll have to take your word for it. I’ve never driven the ICC since I don’t have an EZ pass transponder and don’t intend to get one. I suspect since they made the toll road impossible to use for anyone without a transponder, they are not getting the revenue they projected. I guess its a sort of piggyback toll. (Is it possible that people are being pulled over because they don’t have a transponder and are not paying the toll?)

  6. HankH says:

    Here in Las Vegas, if you get a speeding ticket you can buy it down to a parking ticket. This has promoted a class of drivers that have no regard for speed limit. It’s not uncommon to be passed by a Mercedes, Lexus, Jag, or other expensive car doing 90 in a 65 Mph zone, weaving in and out of lanes, causing people to slam on their brakes to avoid being clipped by them, causing accidents as they speed along without a care. I’ve even seen them pass on the shoulder and access lanes. They’re above the law and they know it.

    Nevada has one of the highest costs for auto insurance in the country.

    • Gail Combs says:

      When I moved from the Boston Madhouse to NC I breathed a big sigh of relief.

      My biggest gripe is the idiots who pass me or pullout in front of me and then slam on the brakes to make a turn. Normally I am hauling a trailer full of livestock and trying to avoid hitting these idiots takes years off my life and can injury my live stock. The last go round was well over $1,000 for the vet bills and the animal laid up for a year.

      I really wish I could hand the S.O.B. the bill.

      • HankH says:

        Fortunately, I’ve not hit one of the S.O.B.s but often wish the ability to pay a speeding ticket down to a parking ticket would be revoked. It creates class warfare on the highways.

  7. Andy says:

    “then pull their Prius (or other small piece of crap car)”

    Couldn’t resist yourself could you.


    • Gail Combs says:

      If my diesel hauling a 33 ft trailer hits a Prius (or other small piece of crap car) the owners are going to be lucky to come out alive. I gross somewhere around 18-20,000 lbs. The semis they play dodge’m with gross 80,000 (and have a lot better brakes thank goodness.)

      It is not the size of the car that is the problem, it is the idiots in the drivers seat not realizing “Having the right of way” does not repeal the laws of physics or mean you are magically not crippled or not dead when those laws of physics come into play.

    • JL says:

      Drive an Escalade-I tell them it’s the anti-Prius. Pisses them off, so I love it.

  8. gregole says:

    I have commuted, I would guess, more than average being most of my life a traveling engineer. My normal route was California to Texas with the occasional jaunt up to Oregon; doing this while living in Arizona. Currently I am lucky enough to have full-time job in town and I commute with traffic, about an hour one-way.

    It just amazes me that people don’t understand the value, both for safety and economy of driving, to just pick a lane, stay in it unless there is a really compelling reason to change lanes, and don’t follow too closely.

    The practice of following extremely close I refer to as gap-closing and it is endemic in California as a driving style. I’m sure many other places as well. Now add in constant, unnecessary, lane-changing perhaps without signals. It is a recipe for disaster and the yearly traffic fatalities reflect it.

    I am actually amazed there aren’t more accidents. And I agree that enforcement of traffic laws seems to center exclusively around speeding violations.

  9. James the Elder says:

    Richmond VA to Coral Gables, FL in 18 hours, including two gas stops, a quick nap, and breakfast. Those were the days. Lead sleds and POWER.

  10. James Strom says:

    Steve, welcome to Maryland. Must say, I’m impressed that you found a freeway. Talk about endangered species!

  11. Anthony S says:

    They left a 10-15ft gap? That’s quite generous in the northeast.

  12. JPL says:

    The Baltimore drivers who truly surprise me are the ones who speed through the photo enforced construction zones. Either the locals know something about enforcement leniency that someone from out of state doesn’t, or they have no aversion to tickets in the mail. The few times that I have had to go through those zones, I set the cruise control right onto whatever low number is posted, throw on my hazard flashers, watch my mirrors at least as much as my windshield, and pray that I make it through.

    • Gail Combs says:

      The ones speeding are politicians, bureaucrats are in someway related to them so they don’t get tickets.

      We have an untouchable Aristocracy as far as the law and privilege is concerned but no one bothered to tell the US serf class.

  13. Eric Simpson says:

    I think you can pretty safely set your cruise control to 5mph over the speed limit. For example, in a 65, set it for 70mph. I know that like when I see a CHP in a 55mph zone and I’ve set the cruise to 60mph I just keep on going at the same speed, no worries.

    • gator69 says:

      I have a few cop friends, and they all say the same thing, if they want to pull you over they will find a reason. As a general rule for speeders on the highway, the saying is, “Nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine”.

  14. matayaya says:

    If you consider the per capita fatal accident statistics; as bad as the driving experience can be, the road is safer now than it has ever been . Folks anecdotes about driving say a lot about their politics. The libertarian would have driving be all the personal responsibility of the individual driver. That may be the case on the surface, but the hidden hand actually doing the driving trying to make it safer is the government.
    The quality of drivers, or human nature for that matter, hasn’t changed since the dawn of time. Everyone gets annoyed with everyone else at some point on the road. Even the straight arrow guy simply doing the speed limit can be an annoying hazard if everyone is recklessly swerving around him to be own their way, especially when the police are not around. We may think we are the better driver, but we all screw up from time to time to be the one others are annoyed at. Those that habitually weave in and out, or tailgate, or those with a parade behind them may make us angry; but they exist in spite of the fact that the roads are safer now than they have ever been. Fatal accident statistics have steadily gone down as the quality of road design and vehicle design has improved. Accidents are also lower where drunk driving is minimized.
    And who guides all this, the government. The government sets road design standards and vehicle safety standards. Remember the quaint old days when the industry fought the seat belt laws? The government puts the police out to keep speeds down. The government sets rigorous standards for being able to get and keep a drivers licence and maintaining a safe vehicle. The government makes everyone maintain vehicle insurance. The government organizes the money to actually get the road built and maintained. In spite of the heavy hand of the government creating and civilizing the road, the libertarian is still able to tool along and to some extent, in spite of the bad drivers, fancy herself free as a bird.

    • You are about ten times more likely to be killed by a texting teenager than by a rifle. Phones kill.

      • matayaya says:

        Bummer, I thought you were going to comment on something I wrote.

      • Gail Combs says:

        Boy, isn’t that the truth! Or the lady rummaging around in her purse looking for her lipstick so she can apply it while driving….

        The lady in question had her head under the dash when she drove us off the road. A great way to direct a car….

        • gator69 says:

          One of my all time favorites was a woman eating pizza, and reading a book while she tailgated through bumper to bumper evening rush hour traffic, at 70 MPH.

    • _Jim says:

      I think I see a new definition forming:

      The ‘matayaya’ – a creature who looks to the government for the ‘be-all’ and ‘end-all’ in life, for the establishment of all standards and rules by which to conduct its life.

      A creature who does not see beyond his government education (indoctrination) in elementary school.


      • Truthseeker says:

        Do you people realise what the most important safety feature on the roads is?

        Bits of white (and sometimes yellow) paint. That’s it. Simple as I can make it.

        Think about that and then read Matayaya’s comment again. This bits of paint work because of the things that Matayaya brought up.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Now if the *&^&*@ road crews would just get around to putting those bits of paint down on the road….

        • _Jim says:

          re: Truthseeker June 10, 2014 at 3:56 am
          Think about that and then read Matayaya’s comment again. This bits of paint work because of the things that Matayaya brought up.

          ‘Simple thinking’ ALWAYS oversimplifies and often misses or leaves out important, unseen things; I think this is another fantastic example of that …


    • Colorado Wellington says:

      But wait, there is more:

      The government allows families to have babies that grow up to be drivers! Without government there would be no drivers. It allows toy trucks to be made and sold to little boys. For little girls, it allows Barbies to have little Beetles to drive Kens around. The government buys whole car companies so cars can be built! The government allows oil companies to drill for oil and refineries to produce fuel …

      Stop! It hurts thinking deep like matayaya. I start hallucinating and have visions of things that would never exist without government. Steve would have nothing to write about! We would not have this conversation at his site …

  15. matayaya says:

    Just try to imagine our road system without government as you all seem to imagine in your libertarian fantasy. It would be a Mad Max world of bad congested roads, like Mumbai, with the American twist of armed drivers settling their road rage scores.

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