05 June 2010

In Defense of My Driving Habits

I am just going to be up front about this and admit it: I drive under the speed limit on the freeway. I promise that I am not a bad driver. In fact, I am quite a good driver, and often had to navigate very full Los Angeles freeways on a time crunch and did so successfully. And so forth. I am capable of driving with traffic, and even of driving more quickly than traffic, doing all the crazy sort of weaving in and out that I dislike so much in other drivers. But when I have the choice (which is most of the time), I drive about five miles per hour under the limit, at least when in town (long-distance (to Seattle, for example) I drive about five miles per hour over the limit). I have various reasons for this, which I will lay out like so:

One. Isabel (my lovely car) gets her best gas mileage at about fifty-five miles per hour. So it saves me money, in theory, to drive that speed (speed limit on the freeway through town is sixty).

Two. It greatly reduces my stress. Several facets under this point being,
A, When driving the speed limit or above, one has to worry about passing frequently, or speeding up and slowing down as necessary to stay with traffic. When you are driving under the speed limit, everything else generally flows around you, and you have to pass much less often. No more stress about openings and timings. Just stay in the right lane and let everyone else worry about their own selves.
B, I have noticed that many, if not most, drivers refuse to get up to speed before merging onto the freeway, even when the on-ramp is long enough to allow it. People tend to merge at about fifty or fifty-five, and then speed up the rest of the way. (This makes no sense to me - I get up to sixty if I can, and then gradually reduce my speed.) I have found that driving at fifty-five makes it so that I rarely have to brake or accelerate to allow someone to merge. It puts enough distance between my car and the car in front of me to let someone in. Occasionally, some genius merges at about forty-five, and then accelerates to seventy posthaste, which baffles and momentarily upsets me. As a general rule, however, much less stress when going by on-ramps.
C, I never have to worry about getting pulled over for speeding. Because I do not speed. That is a pretty simple one, I think.

Three. It does not significantly add to my driving time. One reason I drive more quickly on long trips is that that five miles per hour does add up on a trip across the state (in five hours, the slower car would be twenty-five miles behind the faster car; increase the difference to ten miles per hour and the faster car is fifty miles ahead). But on a fifteen mile drive (which is about the longest one can go in town - from the Maple/Ash exit to the Sullivan exit) it really makes no difference. Multiple times I have seen someone speeding along, weaving in and out of traffic, only to pull up behind them at the stop light when I exit. And if the light does not manage to be an issue for the faster car, it is still a negligible difference, a minute or two at most.

So. There is my defense, take it as you will.

Blessings on your travels,

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