The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows down...

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The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows down...

Postby Serpent on October 25th, 2017, 10:34 pm 

How come?

1. It's a psychological experiment: she's timing how long before you succumb to road-rage.
2. He's looking for an address.
3.

go on
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 12:22 am 

-She is clueless and has no idea she is doing it (a current coworker of mine).
-texting
-eating
-playing radio aka all distractions
-zoned out daydreaming.
-unknowingly contributing to stop and go congested traffic.

I've found that it's almost always someone distracted by talking to someone else either in the car or on the phone. Or eating.

Also a lot of people seem to have weak ankle muscles because they can't do hills very well.

(having only a 4 cylinder older stickshift I notice these things frequently.)
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 26th, 2017, 8:17 am 

- checking their speedometer
- GPS
- or clock
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Braininvat on October 26th, 2017, 11:22 am 

Failing fuel pump.

Clogged fuel filter.

Climbing sections of steep grade with nearly empty gas tank, causing drops in fuel line pressure.

Damaged fuel injector nozzles causing sporadic cylinder ignitions

Worn timing chain

Buggy ECU, needs replacement

partial blockage in exhaust system and/or dirty air filter

parking brake accidentally left engaged

(I could go on, being mechanically minded...)
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 11:25 am 

bad fuel from
vehicle sitting for an extended period of time
bad batch in the gas station
put diesel in a petrol car
put petrol in a diesel car.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2017, 11:25 am 

- Happens to me literally everyday, nothing unusual (no exaggeration!)

Usually on phone, talking to friend on bike along side them, don't understand that you have to keep your hand on the throttle constantly or you'll just slow down again.

- She, like you, is in traffic.
- Has a dog on her lap.
- Is on way to hospital and having a stroke.
- Testing breaks.
- Has lost most of the feeling in her feet due to gout.
- PMT (Apparently it's something that can have this effect.)
- She is learning to drive.
- Hopes it makes someone behind her post the episode on a forum somewhere.
- It's just a dream.
- She's trying to get someone to crash into her for an insurance pay-out, or in order to equip herself with an excuse for being late for an important meeting.
- She's moshing to Bohemian Rhapsody.
- He's just been through a sex change during the car journey.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 11:30 am 

doesn't know how to drive a mountain road. Will drive fast on straight aways and slow down on any turn.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby BioWizard on October 26th, 2017, 12:59 pm 

Poor depth perception due to partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 26th, 2017, 1:53 pm 

Looking for a landmark or turn-off.
Rehearsing a speech or presentation.
Watching out for rock-slides.
Self-driving car in a foul mood.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby doogles on October 26th, 2017, 5:40 pm 

It's the norm in city traffic flow.

I'll admit to being guilty on occasions. I've caught myself doing it on long outback trips. My normal practice is to glance at speedo, look at road ahead, glance at speedo, look at road ahead ... ad nauseum. I aim at sitting within one or two kph of the speed limits. But on long trips, I've occasionally glanced at the speedo to find myself on 90 or less in a 100 zone, or even 115 in a 100 zone.

My personal diagnosis of the cause wrt myself is daydreaming. I neglect to glance at speedo, look at road ahead during daydreaming episodes. My autopilot keeps me on the road, but not at the speed limit.

In defence of myself, I've only had one traffic conviction since 1949 and that was 18 months ago when I daydreamed through an 80 limit just as I realised the fact and had slowed to 90 from 100.


One of my annoyances is the driver who does 90 in the single-lane 100-zones on winding roads, but speeds up to 100 as soon as we reach double overtaking lanes. Our laws suggest we do not exceed 100 even when overtaking in these special areas (which I regard as idiotic), especially when the vehicles on the left consist of a convoy of couple of caravans plus a couple of double-trailered semis. I was surprised to find on my last interstate drive that my speedo was registering 220 as I was slowing down after overtaking one such convoy.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 26th, 2017, 6:53 pm 

There is a wasp in the car.
He's recently had a hefty speeding fine and is paranoid.
Allergy: they keep sneezing and having to reach for tissues.
Recent immigrant, or late-in-life new driver, not sure of the rules.


This is a kind of game keeps me from being too annoyed with other people - not just on the road but anywhere. If I imagine all the reasons they might have for doing whatever bugs me, I can't help realizing that I've had the same thing happen to me, or made the same mistake, and bugged others around me.
Of course, I also make up less than flattering stories about total strangers, just to entertain myself.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 6:56 pm 

Serpent » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:53 pm wrote:
This is a kind of game keeps me from being too annoyed with other people - not just on the road but anywhere.


Exactly. When I get behind someone that is driving unbearably slow I imagine that maybe they had a flat tire and used that fixaflat stuff. It says on the can to not drive over 25mph or something for several miles.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby doogles on October 26th, 2017, 7:33 pm 

I believe that the attitudes expressed above by Zetrique and Serpent are the healthiest ones to adopt. They exude PATIENCE & TOLERANCE, both of which are virtues to my mind, especially on the roads.

Not that I'm perfect myself in those virtues. All of us have limits. But I personally do a bit of self-talk along those lines on such occasions.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 7:39 pm 

.. He She They are on vacation that saved up five years for and this is their once in a lifetime road trip they can hardly afford to go on so they are slowing down to look at things then speeding up trying not to be too slow.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 7:41 pm 

As for people behind you slowing down, speeding up slowing down... tail gating obliviously whatever.
I just move my rear and side view mirrors to point straight back, sit back and cruise. :)
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby JMP1958 on October 26th, 2017, 8:53 pm 

zetreque » October 26th, 2017, 8:30 am wrote:doesn't know how to drive a mountain road. Will drive fast on straight aways and slow down on any turn.


Been behind that driver too many times. I especially love it when he has 6 cars lined up behind him, and then when you finally get to a passing lane, he speeds up so that the fewest cars possible can pass him before the lane ends. Another favorite is the driver that insists on driving in the passing lane, even when he's not passing anyone and is driving slower than the average traffic speed.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 26th, 2017, 9:56 pm 

Aw, cut him a little slack! His shorts have been riding up for miles, strangulating his hernia.
He spilled hot coffee in his lap just a minute ago.
And that rash - Jay-zus, does it ever itch!

(I'm one of the seventeen codgers in Ontario who observe the speed limit, reduce it in rain, snow and poor visibility; more at twilight on back roads where wild creatures may be crossing.
If there are impatient cars behind me, I will pull over once in a while, and I'll always slow down and pull aside a bit at safe passing opportunities... But do they? Hell, no! They wait for a double yellow line, uphill, with a tractor and harrow coming the other way.)
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 26th, 2017, 11:23 pm 

As far as I am aware though I am not going to look for citations right now, the science shows that the main thing that controls a person's speed is obstacles. No amount of signage is going to do anything. You have to put obstacles or narrow lanes (then signs telling you to turn apparently).

I mean aside from all the distractions we are talking about in this thread. We have a highway here that is a continuous grade for miles. People will slow way down for all single lane areas then drive twice as fast for the passing lanes so no one can pass the slower traffic. It's completely insanity and I will do anything I can to keep from driving that highway anymore. Truth is, most of these people just feel safer when the road opens up to two lanes I'm pretty sure. I don't have a high level of confidence in the intelligence of humanity so I just assume people are totally oblivious in most instances. (also by the puzzled looks I get every once in a while when I will flip someone off.)
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby BadgerJelly on October 28th, 2017, 2:39 am 

The question is a very vague intelligence/creativity test. The more answers you can come up with quickly, and the variety of unique probable answers, go a fair way to telling you how intelligent and creative you are.

What intrigues me is how people would respond if they knew this was the real purpose of the OP question. Would you all then try to come up with unique answers that are plausible?

It is something like the "think of as many uses for a pencil as you can." kind of question.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby doogles on October 28th, 2017, 6:21 am 

BadgerJelly posted “The question is a very vague intelligence/creativity test. The more answers you can come up with quickly, and the variety of unique probable answers, go a fair way to telling you how intelligent and creative you are.”

With apologies for questioning this statement of yours, BJ, I have to say that I would be totally surprised if you could quote any evidence anywhere that the variety of unique probable answers correlates in any way with how intelligent (whatever that is) and how creative (whatever that is on a measurement scale) we are.

Do you mind if we just continue as we are, sharing personal driving experiences and our own personal possible interpretations for what we consider to be aberrant driving practices of others. I’ve been interested to discover in this informal lounge chat that we have similar categories of drivers in the USA and in Australia.

Also, I was prompted to post that I agree almost word for word with Zetrique’s statement that “Truth is, most of these people just feel safer when the road opens up to two lanes I'm pretty sure. I don't have a high level of confidence in the intelligence of humanity so I just assume people are totally oblivious in most instances. (also by the puzzled looks I get every once in a while when I will flip someone off.)” I'm feeling slightly inadequate now because my response is neither quick nor comprehensive.

All I wanted to say was that I couldn’t have worded his statementt better because that has been my own conclusion about that category of driver. I don’t flip them off of course; I just accelerate past them via the overtaking lanes.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby BadgerJelly on October 28th, 2017, 8:18 am 

Doogles -

I could quote evidence based on personality and intelligence tests that correlates with what I mentioned.

I was just curious about how differently people here may have answered if they were first told about the parameters of the question. I am not suggesting that the answers given here represent what I am saying at all. Just struck me as a curious thought to throw out there.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 28th, 2017, 11:03 am 

doogles » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:21 am wrote:All I wanted to say was that I couldn’t have worded his statementt better because that has been my own conclusion about that category of driver. I don’t flip them off of course; I just accelerate past them via the overtaking lanes.


Problem is... The road I'm specifically thinking of... People get well above the speed limit in the passing lane area so to pass them one must break the law significantly. It also makes it extra hard to do if I am driving an old truck without as much power. It's frustrating beyond belief which is why I try to avoid that highway.

Another similar experience is old vehicles vs new vehicles. Ever since automatic transmissions came out, people do not appear to understand or be courteous to people on the road with manual transmissions (I could do a whole other paragraph on semi truck rigs). If you have an older manual transmission vehicle, momentum to get up grades/hills is required as is the understanding that one must maintain a certain speed on the road where it's easier to forget if you are driving an automatic.

Before automatic transmissions, I could perhaps assume that people were just as oblivious of each other's gearing ratio. Vehicles have different gearing ratios so they naturally enjoy driving at different speeds.

Fast forward to present day and after driving multiple brand new vehicles this past year I have realized yet another problem. The new vehicles are designed to drive so well that it is easy to drive incredibly fast over the speed limit on windy mountain roads. When I get back in my old truck, if I am not driving 20mph over the speed limit anywhere I go, it feels dangerous like I am going to get run over. Especially on the free way where you have to even do 20 over in the slow lane just to keep up with traffic. I have inherited all my dad's older vehicles this year and it's like I either have to blow up the engine to keep up with traffic or retire them to driving the back country roads. So you gotta wonder if the person behind you (be it an old grandma or a young woman) tail gating you is doing so just because they are in a brand new vehicle where it seems easy to drive fast but don't realize they are doing it.

Trying to be aware of all this when driving is hard to do because I like to be a courteous driver and pull over to let people pass, but at the same time I don't want to lose my momentum going up the hill and half the time I let people pass these days they just slow down and mess up my momentum. I don't enjoy driving as much as I used to. Like most things, humanity has ruined that now too.

So back to the OP. Another reason for speeding up slowing down is the power, age, and gear ratio of a person's car.

And a new question. Why do people seem to drive faster if you don't tail gate them? I think it goes back to how people feel safer when there are less obstacles. If someone is right behind them, there is a psychological thing going on where it slows them down because they are partially distracted by what is behind them. If it's night time the headlights can be blinding them from their mirrors.

It's almost a requirement for me now adays to keep my sanity to be the rude driver that blacks out his rear view mirrors to drive so I'm not constantly worried that I need to let someone pass not knowing if they are really going to drive faster than me or not. Plus I honestly don't give as much of a shit anymore. People drive so fast now that the wildlife are being hit more (another threat to biodiversity). There is a direct correlation between speed of vehicles and number of road kills. I could cite this if needed but have to look it up. A lot of national parks have caught onto this and a road near me has had decades worth of data from someone collecting daily/weekly road kill. There is a curve where once up to a certain speed, different types of wildlife have a hard time running or flying from a vehicle.

I often wish there were more signs bringing this fact to oblivious people. Grand Teton National Park is one place they do signage to this.

I have accumulated enough evidence over the years to just assume that most people are just completely oblivious and they are going to demand that I am at fault no matter what I try to do. I will get screwed if I let them pass, or if I don't let them pass and worrying about it constantly with so many vehicles on the road now takes the enjoyment out of my day. I try to be concious of what kind of bumper stickers I have. I thought about one that says "I slow down for butterflies" but people wouldn't understand that either. The monarchs that migrate across the country are being wiped out during their migration time because of vehicles (another answer to the OP, slowing down for butterflies). (Oh and lets throw up a huge wall just to put the nail in their coffin). Yeah I really need to stop caring about other drivers on the road. What's the saying... "ignorance is bliss"?
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 28th, 2017, 11:33 am 

Then you gotta wonder that if you let someone pass you, then are you indirectly responsible for if they go and kill wildlife with their vehicle that you could have prevented? I don't like playing god, but I wonder sometimes if I should take responsibility for protecting people from themselves when I am on the road by slowing down traffic (traffic that everyone wants to drive at least 20mph over the speed limit I mean). It just feels like insanity out there now.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 28th, 2017, 4:38 pm 

So back to the OP. Another reason for speeding up slowing down is the power, age, and gear ratio of a person's car.

I had a fairly new, though small and under-powered - car one time that could manage grades and highways pretty well when in top condition, but did exactly what Braininavat said when low on gas, and then its catalytic converter had to be replaced (under warranty, twice) Since the nearest dealership was several towns away, getting there was an ordeal (twice) of frustration and embarrassment. Coming home was triumphant!

And a new question. Why do people seem to drive faster if you don't tail gate them? I think it goes back to how people feel safer when there are less obstacles. If someone is right behind them, there is a psychological thing going on where it slows them down because they are partially distracted by what is behind them. If it's night time the headlights can be blinding them from their mirrors.

Both true. There is a third psychological element, which may be most often applicable: We, rule-observing drivers, sometimes become defiant. The speeder behind me is trying to shame or intimidate me into speeding. Not only will I resist that attempt at coercion, I'll show the SOB that it's not working.

Then you gotta wonder that if you let someone pass you, then are you indirectly responsible for if they go and kill wildlife with their vehicle that you could have prevented? I don't like playing god, but I wonder sometimes if I should take responsibility for protecting people from themselves when I am on the road by slowing down traffic (traffic that everyone wants to drive at least 20mph over the speed limit I mean). It just feels like insanity out there now.

Ya. When I worked at the morgue, instead of gesturing at reckless drivers, I would send them a subliminal message: "See you Monday morning!"
In fact, I did see many accident victims - more victims than accident perpetrators. That experience made me a more cautious driver for sure, and yes, I do still wonder sometimes whether my slowing down for fog and sleet and dark of night, and preventing the people behind from rushing into danger, may not save a life or limb or porcupine. I try not to be a **** about it, but I do consider it. *

(PS - Should we substitute Philip K. ? )

Really, I started this question for fun, after my SO and I played a game in the waiting queue at the hazardous waste dump - "What are they bringing?"
I find that such games achieve several ends:
Keep us amused in what would otherwise be long periods of boredom.
Defuse anger, frustration, resentment and other blood-pressure raising responses, by enlisting our empathy, and reminding us that we're imperfect, too, not in control of every situation, and need their indulgence sometimes.
Fill some of those lacunae in our ageing brains and staves off Alzheimer's
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby JMP1958 on October 28th, 2017, 5:59 pm 

zetreque » October 28th, 2017, 8:33 am wrote:Then you gotta wonder that if you let someone pass you, then are you indirectly responsible for if they go and kill wildlife with their vehicle that you could have prevented? I don't like playing god, but I wonder sometimes if I should take responsibility for protecting people from themselves when I am on the road by slowing down traffic (traffic that everyone wants to drive at least 20mph over the speed limit I mean). It just feels like insanity out there now.


Anyone determined to drive 20 mph over the speed limit is going to find a way to pass you no matter what you do anyway. If you try to stall them they will just become more likely to take risks to get around you.
I came across an example of this last night driving home from the coast. I was behind a semi which was driving below the speed limit by 5 to 15 mph below the speed limit (he slowed down on the curves). It was night, and even though there were parts where I wasn't in a no passing zone, I just didn't know the road well enough to have a feeling for how far is was to the next curve, because I could see the road that far ahead.
When we came up to one of these stretches, the car behind me got impatient, and passed us both. It was a good thing he had a powerful engine, because he barely got past the semi before a car appeared coming the other way. I'm not all that sure that I would have gotten past the semi in time with my car. (It's a 13 year old Toyota Matrix from which I'm sure a few horses have escaped over the years.)

Not much later, the semi pulled into a slow vehicle pull out and let a good number of us following him pass.

I generally don't get upset with someone if they are just driving a little slower than I would. It's the ones that drive 45 in a 55 zone, and then still brake when they come to a turn, that tend to try my patience.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 28th, 2017, 6:13 pm 

JMP1958 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:59 pm wrote:
Anyone determined to drive 20 mph over the speed limit is going to find a way to pass you no matter what you do anyway.


This is not true because back to the other point, people are often really oblivious even driving that fast now. I live in what is a growing affluent area. Everyone has brand new vehicles that handle extremely well so even soccer mom's will be going ridiculous speeds over mountains a lot of the time. But now that you brought it up this brings up another problem. If you don't let some people pass, then they will sometimes pass you unsafely so it's like you are damned if you do damned if you don't which brings up my point where I do not enjoy driving anymore. People are just to ridiculous out there. This is one situation where diversity does not help because we can't read other people's minds. Of course we can try to predict by their driving behavior but it's not always a clear indicator.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Braininvat on October 28th, 2017, 7:04 pm 

I was a flatlander for a long time, so I tended to drive pretty slow (i.e. the posted speed limits or a bit less) when I first started driving in mountainous areas. Pretty much the entire road, from starting point to destination, seemed like a No Passing zone to me. I was in a nasty accident in the late 1980s that made me aware (for the rest of my life) that we are all just a split-second away from the morgue when traveling at highway speeds, and how incredibly fast things can get out of control. I was lucky, as was my passenger, to get out with just bruises and a minor bump on the noggin. It was a mechanical failure, and it made me even more of a believer in preventive maintenance.

Ya. When I worked at the morgue, instead of gesturing at reckless drivers, I would send them a subliminal message: "See you Monday morning!"


Made me laugh. I used to make a comment to my wife along the lines of "Well, there's a shortage of donor organs, so I guess he's doing his part." It's also what I say when I see the motorcycle loons here in the Black Hills, driving without helmets.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby Serpent on October 28th, 2017, 7:58 pm 

Helmets are irrelevant; they just came in in a separate bag, head still in. Sometimes boots with feet in, too.

Worst trouble with reckless drivers: they too often take out law-abiding drivers, unwary pedestrians and passengers, including their own kids.

I just thought again of tailgaters. Another reason may be: they don't intend anything; they just instinctively close up gaps. Vehicles, like herd animals, feel more secure in close formation.

For whatever reason somebody is driving erratically, or stupidly, it's safer to stay clear of them. The last thing you want to do is anger a choleric personality, corner an indecisive one or spook a nervous one. Any bad decision by another driver can redound on you, or others in their vicinity.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby zetreque on October 28th, 2017, 8:04 pm 

Serpent » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:58 pm wrote:
I just thought again of tailgaters. Another reason may be: they don't intend anything; they just instinctively close up gaps. Vehicles, like herd animals, feel more secure in close formation.


I think I mentioned that already. One of my coworkers does that and I cringe the entire time being a passenger.

Another huge problem is people love to drive in groups. I can't stand it. I will drive faster to get out of a group of cars or slower to get out of one too. You will notice that people very often drive in packs. Like if you set cruise control, pack after pack of cars will either pass you if you are going slow or you will pass them if you are going fast. I don't know what it is about people that like being in herds like that. There are long stretches of open road in between packs and that's where I try to stay.

People just like to drive fast until they come to an obstacle. They could care less about passing you, they just needed to catch up for some reason.
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Re: The driver ahead of you slows down, speeds up, slows dow

Postby jocular on October 28th, 2017, 8:43 pm 

It is obviously tourists.Who knows what is going on in their minds but often it seems obvious they are just going slow so as not to miss the turning.

Then again they may be having a conference between the driver
and co navigators.A little "slow time" might be required so as to "keep options open"

Or quite simply,I am on holiday and the road belongs to me now

Old fogies also go slow but that cannot be helped and they tend to travel small distances.

If speeds are erratic I assume they are drunk and take avoiding action.
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