What's the matter with driving the speed limit?

I’ve always been puzzled why drivers feel the need to go over the speed limit. I’ve always driven at the speed limit, or a little over, going to work or to the store or out for a drive, etc. I like to have total control over the car and not have to be intensely riveted to the road in order to be safe, which is necessary at overly-high speeds. I’m the philosophical type and use my time in the car to do some thinking. Some people seem to get mad enough to kill me over this, and have even risked their lives tailgating me, so I have to slow down more in case they hit me; or have cut me off; one even passed and slammed on their brakes; I’ve been called vile names; or they drive with their brights on so I can’t see the road. Why? There can’t be that many emergencies out there. Does anyone have a rational answer to why everyone is in such a hurry? No emotional responses please; I already know about those.

Absolutely nothing wrong with going the speed limit, just so long as you do it in the right lane. And, if you should need to pass someone going 54.9999 miles an hour, please try to either do it at some speed over 58 mph, or at least don’t pull out right in front of me to do it.

Some of us are obviously comfortable handling our vehicles at 65 or 70. I rarely go over 75, except on wide open interstates.

If everyone was courteous on the roads, there wouldn’t be many problems. But some jerks happen to go 80, and some 50.

Why do some people drink beer while others stay sober? Why do some people like Indian food and some Mexican?

People speed because they want to. That’s the most non-emotional answer you can get.



Those are but two of dozens of previous discussions about speeding and speed limits.


No hope then.

Nope, there’s no hope. You can’t control people who want to be assholes. If someone is tailgateing you or otherwise being a schmuck, LET THEM PASS YOU. It’s not “giving up” or anything stupid like that; you want dangerous people to get away from you.

I dunno, what are you hoping for? Drive your chosen speed, leave the left lane open for passing. Accept that some people are jerks when they hassle you for going slower than them in the right lane. But if you think you know what speed is best for me, and try to force me to abide by your will by refusing to let me pass in the left lane, understand that perhaps I am trying to get to the hospital where my daughter has been taken after being in an accident.

Don’t feel bad suziek. I usually drive pretty close to the posted speed limit too. I had a period of time when I got 3 speeding tickets…bam…bam…bam. Not only did they cost me a bunch of money I didn’t have at the time, I was told if I got one more ticket within a year, my driver’s liscense would be revoked.

One problem is that most speedometers aren’t very accurate. A +/- 5 mph error is typical (my BMW was 8 mph off at 65 mph, when it was brand new!). Between two cars, that’s a ten mile spread- one car thinks he’s going 55, and he’s really going 50, while the fuming behind him thinks they’re both going 45!


Let me make a guess: those of you who feel compelled to drive the speed limit at all times don’t live around Washington, and never drive on the Capital Beltway. Right?

So how about a cite? If you choose to believe the Washington State DOT (check the FAQ, down the page), drivers are less influenced by speed limits than speed limits are influenced by drivers’ speeds.

As others have said, be courteous. Let people who want to drive fast, drive in frount of you. Then they can’t bother you.

On rural two lane roads it can be difficult for someone to pass you. Just pull off the road every ten miles or so and let them pass.

Sometimes, you may have to stop daydreaming and drive a little faster than you like to. But never drive faster than you feel safe.

I never drive in the left lane. I almost never pass. I never expect someone else to abide by my rules, I just don’t want them to kill me. I had to drive 45 miles on a two-lane icy/snowy road in the dark this winter every day and I think I must have pulled over 6 times every time I drove it. If I had a big pickup with those huge tires instead of a Mazda 323 I might have gone faster than 45mph. People get mad, and very agitated, when you talk about going slower than they normally drive. It’s puzzling, like you are trying to do something to them.

Cornflakes: Just a thought, that as the population ages that 85th percentile speed will go down. Then you will hear the younger drivers complaining. A lot of older drivers might be in the “other” categories but they pay taxes and have a right to use the roadways as long as they are competent drivers. My parents just don’t go out at commute time and usually try to take the side roads to the doctor’s office or shopping, but they still get harassed by (usually) younger males, about going too slow. Dad got so scared to drive that he gave up his license last year and now my mother has to drive them everywhere. I know that “slow” drivers can cause accidents. But I don’t drive slow by definition, I drive usually at or 5 miles over the speed limit. So I’m in the 85th percentile. Interesting article by the way.

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with speed limits. There’s a certain speed on every road which just is too dangerous to consider. My big, big beef is that the limits are way too LOW, with freeways being the absolute worst. I would gladly abide by a limit 75, but 55 is just ridiculously conservative. I go well over that limit nearly every time and have never even been close to an accident. (n.b. I’m widely regarded as a safe driver and have received, within my lifetime, ONE warning for speeding, and that was a long time ago.) The only times I’ve ever damaged my car happened when I was on the shy side of 3 miles an hour).

For that matter, nearly every other driver on nearly every road where there isn’t heavy traffic (which, granted, isn’t that often in Hawaii) doesn’t give a rotten malasada about the limit. We go that fast because we can handle it, we know it’s safe, and we want to get there. Simple as that.

Now, we got reckless hotrodders and slowpokes like anywhere else. But they’re usually not a problem, because, you see, we pass slower traffic and allow faster traffic to pass. That way no one “cuts off” anyone (how the hell do you do that on a freeway, anyway) and there’s no danger of accidents. Oh yeah, most of us signal as well, making these passes even more trouble-free.

So it’s really very simple. We go as fast as our abilities and vehicles will allow, the fuzz can’t be everywhere at once, and until there’s ACTUAL danger of an accident, there’s no reason to change.

One more thing; that stereotype of old drivers always being the slowest is false. It’s almost entirely the driver’s attitude, not age. My father has judiciously followed the limit his whole life, mainly because he’s such a stickler for rules.

I wish to hell some of them would pass me. No, what pisses me off is when I’m going 10-15 over the limit in the right lane, and some jackass sets himself up about 10 inches from my rear bumper, with a clear lane to his left. Just pass me, OK? Sheesh.

What really gets me is when I am doing the speed limit, or slightly above, and a truck (usually a redneck pickup truck, but sometimes a big mack truck) will come roaring up and get within inches of my bumper. As they can usually pass on the right or left, I know they are doing this solely for intimidation (I am not going to pass you, YOU get out of my way). I have a little car (1986 Nissan Sentra), but the rules of the road apply no matter the size of your vehicle.

I’ve nearly been killed by “philosophical types”; people who were thinking Great Thoughts, or planning their days. As a pilot, I read a lot of reports in the various magazines about aircraft crashes. Two big factors are inattention and distraction. Now, handling a car is not as difficult as flying a helicopter or airplane. You can let your attention wander a bit. But how much? They don’t compile post-crash investigations as they do with aircraft. How many crashes on the road were caused by someone who just had to look at the baby wolf? Or had to slam on his brakes to look at someone waaaaaay over on the shoulder changing his tire? Or had to compose the Great American Novel while he was driving? Or was putting on makeup? Shaving? Reading?

I drive fast. But I pay attention.

IIRC interstates are designed to be safe at 90 mph. (note this doesn’t mean the car is safe at this speed or the driver). Also the 55mph limit that a lot of us got stuck with was to conserve fuel not to be safer. (true deaths went down when 55mph Fed limit - but guess what when given back to the states and they raised it to 60mph the death rate when down more)

You have legislatures setting speed limits knowing people will drive faster.

You have the police which USALLY abides to an ‘enforcment tolerance’.

Get a clue - the speed limit IS SET LOW and cars are safer driving on a road w/ the speedlimit at 65 then 55 (assuming same road and road was constructed to handle this speed). by traveling below the speed limit when the speed limit is obvious set low - YOU are creating a hazzard!

A short story - I was driving on a 2 lane no passing road (not just a double yellow line but 4 yellow lines) - speed limit was 40mph and a cop was following me (just going my way) for some distance. We got to a school zone 15MPH. I slowed down to about 13-15 mph and traffic backed up quickly. The cop crossed the 4 yellow lines and passed me (thank God) and proceded to travel at a ‘reasonable and prudent speed’ which was about 45mph. He didn’t seem to be in a rush and I thought that a police officer should set an example. but then could drive at a reasonable speed :).

I ment 65mph

Something about speeds. Some vehicles are safer and work better at a given speed, and other vehicles are safer and work better at other speeds. For normal driving, my Porsche was “happy” at 90mph. It had Bilstein sport shocks that were very harsh at slow speeds. Then engine was in a nice operating range. That, the suspension and the steering geometry allowed for very precise control at that speed.

Sold the Porsche. Now I have a Jeep Cherokee. It’s “happy” around 70mph. My Yamaha also likes 70mph, although it’s comfortable above 100.

I’ve seen cars on the road that had been incorrectly set up or were in an accident. They’re “skewed”. (i.e., their rear wheels are offset to one side in relation to the front wheels.) These cars are probably not safe much above 50 or 60mph. Other cars have out-of-balance wheels. They feel smooth because their wheels have reached a frequency (bouncing up and down) that makes the driver unaware that anything is wrong. Probably not too safe when the rubber isn’t meeting the pavement half of the time. Fix it or drive slower.

The point is that some cars will be safer at higher speeds, and some will be safer at lower speeds. Same goes for drivers. A good driver knows the limits of himself and his vehicle, and does not exceed them. The guy riding your bumper may or may not be a good driver. Better to let him pass. After all, do you want to have him behind you for a few seconds; or for several minutes?