67

Each day, I drive through a heavily wooded area in a nature reservation (in the United States). The roads have many twists, turns and hills, and the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. Cars going much faster are likely to crash. There are few, if any, places to turn off; guardrails, embankments and a foot-wide shoulder make pulling over virtually impossible. There are also no passing zones.

I normally drive at the speed limit or a little bit below (20 mph on the worst sections), because even though I know the area well, it's still not as safe as, say, a nice flat side street. However, over the last week, I've had several cases where a person is tailgating me - typically an SUV roughly two or three feet behind my rear bumper. I seem to have a couple choices:

  • I could go faster, and risk injuring myself and any other vehicles, cyclists or nearby pedestrians. This also means that I'd have less time to stop at wildlife crossings, which are fairly common on these roads. Enough collisions with animals happen already in the area.
  • I could go the same speed, and continue to annoy the driver.
  • I could attempt to pull off at one or two spots, but the other driver is so close that I'm afraid to slow down while I pull off - they could still hit me!

I could, of course, go slower, but that would simply be obnoxious.

At the moment, I use the second option (and I should be clear: I'm not asking for advice on what the best thing to do is). I'd prefer to be safe above all else, and that's the safest solution for everyone involved (although it's not my personal responsibility to decide how fast another vehicle should go). On the other hand, it's always possible that the other vehicle needs to get somewhere for an emergency - and that worries me a bit.

Is it rude for me to stay with the second option? I'd prefer safety above courtesy, of course, but it still bugs me a bit. Having them tailgate me when they want to go faster is also a bit dangerous.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ælis, avazula, sphennings, ElizB, Negotiate Nov 16 '18 at 1:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • <comments removed> If you have an answer, please post it below. Comments do not have the features to vet what you say here, and they are not for ongoing conversation. Take it to chat. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino Jul 22 '17 at 13:09
  • I am afraid the answers to this question have a legal bias - while it may (or may not) be true that the legal bias in this instance corresponds to what is polite, we do know not all legal rules are this way. – Harrichael Aug 4 '17 at 13:37
  • How does this involve interpersonal skills? No words can be exchanged between drivers while this is happening. The OP has also identified correctly all possible venues. Therefore, answers will either be based on personal opinion or by citing the relevant safety regulations. In fact, a lot of answers are basically saying the same thing that the OP should maintain their speed. There can be no "new" answer which puts a different spin. And for this reason, I am casting my vote to close the question. – user3114 Sep 24 '17 at 7:53
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    @Mari-LouA Interpersonal skills are not limited to verbal exchanges - consider all of the questions and answers on the site about nonverbal actions. – HDE 226868 Sep 24 '17 at 19:08

17 Answers 17

80

While I am from the UK, I feel my answer can apply here too.

In the Theory Test aspect of getting a UK driving licence, one of the potential questions is this exact scenario. The correct answer is to always remain calm and continue driving safely. When on the roads you should never feel intimidated to drive faster, always drive at safe speeds. The driver behind you shouldn't even be feeling annoyed, driving when irritable or annoyed is something to avoid. In terms of safety if you yourself are behind a car, and he's right behind you, make sure to leave more of a gap between you and the car infront, so that if they slam on the breaks, you don't get crashed into by the 4x4.

Given that you are doing the best option there is (and the legally correct one) then you shouldn't be feeling as though you're being rude; you're simply driving along a road in a safe manner. If it helps, here's a definition of a speed limit (taken from the UK government website, bolding mine):

The speed limit is the absolute maximum - it doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive at this speed in all conditions.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Robert Cartaino Jul 22 '17 at 13:12
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    I would suggest removing the legal advice: "(and the legally correct one)". While it might be true that what the OP is doing is legal in your jurisdiction, I doubt you have sufficient information to make that assertion categorically. Further, I know that under some circumstances, in some US jurisdictions, not pulling over to allow cars to pass (when safe to do so) is just as illegal as other traffic violations (e.g. speeding), even when you are going at or above the speed limit. – Makyen Jul 23 '17 at 18:53
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    This answer does not cover the subject fully. The U.K. equivalent to the question would be driving down a winding single-track B road with next to no passing places, or a two-lane single-carriageway road with solid white centre lines. The U.K. actually shares what U.S. commentators have been talking about. Rule 169 of the Highway Code tells drivers (especially of large or slow moving vehicles, but not solely) to pull in and let queued up traffic pass them. There is more than just the law on speed limits here. The Highway Code doesn't constrain Rule 169 to just some classes of roads, note. – JdeBP Jul 23 '17 at 22:00
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    @Clonkex, California vehicle code 21656 requires, on a 2 lane road, pulling over to let cars pass if you're going slower than "the normal speed of traffic" & followed by >=5 vehicles. Here, "normal speed of traffic" is the speed the other cars desire to go, even if above the speed limit. There is also 22400, but that has "safe operation" and legal qualifications (i.e. at the speed limit is OK). – Makyen Jul 24 '17 at 5:40
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    Comments are not for extended chat, if you want to discuss this further please use the link to the chat provided above. – Crafter0800 Jul 24 '17 at 8:29
50

It is never rude to drive the speed limit
Despite how the tailgater may feel about it, the speed limit is an upper bound on the legal speed for the road. While we all speed from time to time, we shouldn't complain about being forced to follow a law that's often ignored. Tailgating itself is both rude and illegal.

In the driver's education and defensive driving courses I've taken, the recommended reaction to tailgaters is to slow down by easing off the gas (but not hitting the brakes). This does several things:

  1. It reduces the energy in the situation. All else being equal, a collision at 15 mph is better than one at 25mph.
  2. It encourages the tailgater to pass you.
  3. It gives you more time to react smoothly to conditions ahead.

They will hate this. They will get over it.

You're right that hitting the brakes is risky, as the tailgater may fail to react (and hit you) or overreact (locking up their brakes or steering off the road).

Speeding up is the worst thing you can do. It puts you at a speed you're not comfortable with, raises the energy in the situation, and is unlikely to actually dislodge the tailgater.

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    Carl's advice is good on a road with only one lane in each direction. On a road with multiple lanes, don't speed up, but do move over. It's the polite thing to do. It's the legal thing to do in the US. You are not a traffic cop. It is not your job to enforce the speed limit. – A. P. Damien May 3 '18 at 6:11
28

Not sure about driving etiquette and driving language (like blinking passenger-side turn once or twice to say "it's safe to overtake" or driver-side turn to say "don't overtake") in your country, but it seems to me that under no circumstances following the rules can be rude. Driving rules are mostly written in blood, and that is a strong reason to follow them.

In Russia you can touch brake (push it just a bit so that stop lights are on, but there is no actual braking) twice (make a stop-light blink) to tell the other driver that you won't go faster and you feel he is too close. Not sure if it's a common signal in your country, but you could still try and hope that she gets the message.

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    This is also a common signal in the US. Unfortunately the drivers who want to go faster will frequently either ignore the signal or even express their displeasure by moving even closer or start blinking their headlights. – doneal24 Jul 19 '17 at 17:07
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    I've actually never heard of this signal (I live in the US), but it seems reasonable. As @DougO'Neal says though, the other driver will probably just get more annoyed. But, that's not your problem, as the only person practicing safe driving habits in the scenario. – Kristen Hammack Jul 19 '17 at 18:32
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    This is a good suggestion; I'm going to try it the next few times I get a chance. Thanks for the advice, as well as the phrase "Driving rules are mostly written in blood". I'm not sure how well it's applicable here, but it very well might be. – HDE 226868 Jul 20 '17 at 21:22
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    Please edit this answer to use "offside" and "nearside" (that's the side nearest the centre-line and the side nearest the kerb, respectively) for the indicator directions instead of "right" and "left". I suspect this answer is written from the perspective of someone who normally drives on the right, but not everyone does. – Andrew Leach Jul 22 '17 at 14:01
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    @AndrewLeach I disagree about using "offside" and "nearside"; that makes no sense to me (I'd have no idea which sides you mean). I'd use driver's side and passenger's side. Your second sentence also makes no sense. This answer says blinking right turn once or twice to say "it's safe to overtake". That means it's written from the perspective of someone who normally drives on the left (i.e. right-hand-drive). – Clonkex Jul 24 '17 at 5:17
25

If someone is driving unsafely close to your vehicle the safest option for you is to slow down. By driving so close to your vehicle that they are unable to brake in response to emergency actions you may be forced to take they place you, as well as themselves, in danger.

There may be later opportunities for you to allow them to pass which you can use, but when someone is behaving rudely and dangerously by tailgating you, you should not feel any great obligation to help them out by inconveniencing yourself for their benefit and you are certainly under no obligation to endanger yourself and others to assist them in driving faster.

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    +1 to slowing down. I was always taught that you should leave a sensible gap. If someone wants to tailgate me, I'll slow down to a speed where they're not an unsafe distance behind. If that means 5mph, then so be it – Valorum Jul 20 '17 at 7:25
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    I agree. Some people may think this is just a "f*** you" to the driver behind for driving aggressively, but that's just a plus! If an aggressive driver is behind me in a way that I don't feel I can safely respond to an emergency, the only safe option is to gradually slow. – Samthere Jul 20 '17 at 11:15
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    @BT - Ignoring the fact that the law wholly favours slowing down, if the driver behind is at an unsafe distance, it's incumbent on you (for your own safety) to make that distance safe again. – Valorum Jul 20 '17 at 22:27
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    Slowing down is appropriate because the driver behind you is following too close for the speed, AND because he is adding a hazard by driving too close while you were going the speed your felt safe at, AND because it means you will be going slow enough to pull over. If that makes him angry (as @BT suggested), that's on the crazy driver and his reckless behavior, not on you, and all the more reason to go at a safe speed for THAT situation. – Dronz Jul 21 '17 at 5:15
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    @BT It's not that slowing down will necessarily make them increase their distance, but it will decrease the dangerousness of following too close. Also, in my experience in this situation, slowing down sometimes does get a tailgater who can't go around to relent. It's not to aggravate the driver behind, but to have the driver in front drive how he feels comfortable for the conditions. If that drives the driver behind into an enraged frenzy, the hothead needs to cool down and back off. – Dronz Jul 21 '17 at 15:22
14

It is most definitely NOT rude to drive the speed limit in the situation you've described. However, it's not really a question of rudeness or not, it's a question of the law. You are obeying the law, the other driver, by tailgating or creating an unsafe driving condition, is not. If they don't like the speed limit they can take that up with their political representatives. Additionally, to say that the other driver, by putting your life and the lives of others who are using the road, was behaving rudely would be a gross understatement.

That said, you may want to protect yourself and your passengers by letting them pass if it is safe to do so. If you can safely pull off the road you may want to consider doing that. Otherwise you should do all you can to drive at a speed that is within the legal limit and at which you feel safe driving.

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    In some (most? all?) places, the law requires you to pull over and let them pass at the next safe opportunity (at least if there are > N cars piled behind you). That's also definitely the polite thing. Passing up opportunities to let other drivers pass is extremely rude. – Kevin Jul 20 '17 at 18:28
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    @Kevin Does such a law apply if you are already going the speed limit? And if there are neither opportunities to pull over nor passing zones? On potentially dangerous roads in nature reserves when there's a single driver potentially illegally tailgating you? – Euchris Jul 20 '17 at 19:02
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    Yes, at least in CA it explicitly applies even if you're going the speed limit (or higher). And as I said, the next safe opportunity. – Kevin Jul 20 '17 at 19:03
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    @Kevin do you have a link describing this law and its details? I've tried searching and not found anything. – Zurahn Jul 20 '17 at 19:43
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    @Zurahn The relevant law is here. It applies only to highways, but it does indeed apply regardless of speed limit if your speed is "less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time" if there are 5 or more vehicles lined up behind you. – reirab Jul 20 '17 at 20:02
13

It's never unsafe to pull over (where there's space), and any speed demon would sigh in relief at the sign of a right turn signal (or left if you're in one of those wrong-side countries ; ) with slowing down to pull off. If someone else wants to go much faster than you, please pull off for them. Its much safer for them and for you, and in lots of places its actually the law.

As far as social harmony is concerned, intentionally going slower is the worst option. It makes you the Ahole. Refusing to pull over also doesn't score you any social points. So if you take longer than something like 4 or 5 minutes to recognize you're blocking traffic and pull over, you're either being unaware of yourself (which isn't good in any situation, social or not) or you're simply being rude. That said, you shouldn't feel forced to go faster than you're comfortable with. But its not acceptable to have a drivers license and yet still feel unconfortable pulling over for someone. They won't hit you if they want to get where they're going.

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    Can't believe this answer is at the bottom. Vehicles known to drive slow do this ALL THE TIME because it is completely unreasonable for them not to. Trucks, tractors, school buses, they all do this in rural areas. – Kik Jul 20 '17 at 15:31
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    You seem to have missed the part of the question where it says there is nowhere to pull over. – Catija Jul 20 '17 at 19:13
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    @Catija Maybe you missed the part where he contradicted that saying there were "one or two spots" he "could attempt to pull off at". Roads are usually required to be built with these kinds of safe places to pull of. – B T Jul 20 '17 at 19:24
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    But that's not what your answer says. Your answer is accusing him of being rude because he feels unsafe and won't pull off immediately. Someone only two feet off your bumper is extremely unsafe and slowing down may only be worse. – Catija Jul 20 '17 at 19:26
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    @Catija I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I'm answering his question in a general sense. No matter how close they are to your bumper, you can put your blinker on and pull over. I'm gonna guess that 99.99% of tailgaters restrain themselves until the person in front has passed up good pull of points. And they will definitely cooperate with you if they see you're trying to let them pass – B T Jul 20 '17 at 19:28
12

Consider it this way: driving on the road is an inherently selfish act. You are not helping anyone else by doing so, and as you mention you are causing other drivers some inconvenience by driving more slowly than they want to drive. When these drivers look at you, they will probably think "This person should not be driving, doing so is an inconvenience to me and other people like me" and by that logic, they will consider your actions rude.

However, there are a few more things to consider:

  • You can think the same thing about them. They are inconveniencing you by tailgating, they should not be driving if they are endangering other drivers.

  • For every human in the world save one, there is another human that will driver faster than that human on this road. You are perhaps at the low end of the spectrum, but everyone should have experienced a time when they were in your position. They should be able to empathize with your situation.

So the people who tailgate you might consider you to be rude, but because of these two points they will themselves be rude people incapable of empathy. You should use this information to judge whether or not your rudeness is worth worrying about.

Plus, consider the alternatives: it's rude to murder pedestrians, and it's rude to break someone's car. Compared to these, continuing to drive at a safe speed is the least of three evils.

6

In answer to the original question of whether it's rude to go the speed limit when someone behind you wants to go faster: It depends. If you're going slower than you need to in order to hold someone up, then yes that is rude. If you are going as fast as you feel is acceptably safe for the combination of road, driver, and vehicle, then no it isn't rude. I've been on both sides of this question, since I generally like to drive fast, but I've been the owner of some very slow vehicles that would not physically do the speed limit in certain circumstances. I think it's certainly nice to give someone a passing opportunity when and where you feel safe doing so, but it isn't generally a requirement. I say generally because there are a few legal situations requiring slow vehicles to use turnouts (where provided), or to vacate the left lane (where applicable).

That being said, I would venture to guess that it would be possible to go a lot, lot, lot faster than the speed limit on the road described, provided the vehicle and the driver's skill level are up to it. I recommend to everyone who hasn't done it to get some track time in order to develop their skills.

5
  1. I don't think it is rude to drive safely.

  2. Other answers have suggested that it is never rude to drive at the posted speed limit. That may be true in some (possibly mythical) place where the speed limit is actually set in accordance with the Institute of Traffic Engineers guidelines -- at the 85th percentile of measured speed. See http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Establishing_Realistic_Speedlimits_85625_7.pdf as an example. Unfortunately, many places set speed limits based on some arbitrary rule (25MPH on all residential streets, for example) or on complaints by residents that people are driving "too fast".

  3. Therefore, the posted speed limit may be "too slow" (below the 85th percentile) and thereby actually cause more accidents or more severe accidents (the damage done to people and property is proportional (roughly) to the 4th power of the difference in speed between the two objects that collide. (See the equation for "elastic collistion" in Wikipedia and plug in some actual numbers.)

So what's the polite thing to do? If there's more than one driving lane, move to the right until your speed matches that of other vehicles in that lane, or into the rightmost driving lane if you are going slower than everybody else. If there's only one driving lane, drive at the speed you consider safe, but pull over when it is safe.

Now, having a tailgater can make pulling over risky -- will he be able to stop in time when you're about to? If you know about the turnout in advance, signal, then gradually slow down as you approach it so that you're going slow enough to pull over when you get there. If you come on one suddenly and the vehicle behind is too close to stop safely, just go on past and wait for another opportunity. After all, it's his fault that he's too close.

  • The Michigan doc was quite interesting especially the graph on page 15 showing that driving too slow for conditions (below 85th percentile) is MORE likely to get one into an accident than driving the same amount too fast. OTOH, I imagine many of those are from being suddenly overtaken, and once the driver behind is merely tailgating (didn't slam into you before even seeing you), the risk goes down dramatically. – Taryn Jul 19 '17 at 23:07
  • +1, but even in such a mythical place, it's still rude (and dangerous and usually illegal) to drive the speed limit in the fast lane on a multi-lane road if there's traffic behind you and you're not actively passing someone. – reirab Jul 20 '17 at 19:32
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    I disagree that speed limits are arbitrary. In the UK, residential speed limits are set at 30mph. Hitting a child at 30mph gives them an 80% chance of survival. At 40 it’s just 20% chance. Sometimes it’s 20 - that’s to help traffic flow. Motorways are faster because you don’t get kids running about, and slower to (again) improve traffic flow. – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 0:21
  • You don't get to decide if speed limits are "too slow". – A. McDaniel Sep 12 '17 at 20:24
5

I think on a slow, windy, two lane road, your approach is acceptable. It would be a courtesy to pull off if there is a large pull off spot (and you can turn on your blinker well in advance to let the person behind you know you are doing so to avoid a read end collision), but it is not necessarily required. Your safety is the most important thing.

That said, if you are on road with multiple lanes traveling in the same direction, continuous driving in the left lane (speed limit or not) is not acceptable. The left lane is for passing and in various states you can even get pulled over for driving in the left lane when you aren't passing somebody. Also, it is in fact somewhat rude and you are likely to annoy people. Furthermore, "Slower Traffic Keep Right" is a street sign you will see on many roads that have multiple lanes travelling in the same direction, so stay to the right if you want to travel at a slower pace.

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    You honestly believe that the government created a lane just for people breaking the law? The overtaking lane is for people who are going at the speed limit, who are overtaking people going less than the speed limit. It is not for people who are going over the speed limit to overtake people driving the speed limit. – Scott Jul 20 '17 at 1:02
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    @Scott Even if that's true, just sitting in the passing lane if you are not passing anyone, even if you are going the speed limit, is dangerous and often illegal in the US. It's often called "lollygagging". The passing lane is for passing, not driving. – Catija Jul 20 '17 at 4:19
  • @Catija - MikeS stated that going in the left lane at the speed limit to overtake someone going below the speed limit is not acceptable. "going the speed limit in the left lane is not acceptable." In no way was I advocating for the use of the overtaking lane for anything other than overtaking. – Scott Jul 20 '17 at 4:52
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    @Scott The speed doesn't matter. The law states one must keep to the right. Occupying the left lane where the right lane is empty violates that law. If I'm in the right lane and someone is speeding in the left lane, that is usually not my immediate problem. – gerrit Jul 20 '17 at 11:18
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    I have edited my answer as the message I was trying to convey is "left lane is for passing", not "left lane is for speeding". However, if you are driving in the left lane and your mindset is, "I'm already going the speed limit so there is no need for people to pass me, so I'll continue to drive here for the duration of my trip", that is the wrong attitude, against the law in many places, and not the purpose of the left lane. – MikeS Jul 20 '17 at 19:18
5

Option 4, signal to your right, and wave them around you. This signifies your intent to let them pass in a manner that allows you two to coordinate. He moves to the other side, you slow down so he can pass without you needing to worry about him rear ending you any more, and he's gone.

5

To answer this, you have to start with understanding what is and isn't rude behavior in general, then understand how it relates to driving. Certainly, intentionally and unnecessarily impeding others is rude. It's also arguably rude for you to not do your best to avoid impeding others when you can do so reasonably and without undue burden.

So how does this apply to driving? In the case you describe, you are faced with a tailgater who wishes to pass you, however driving conditions do not give you a safe way to do this. Since it puts undue burden on you (risking your own safety for their convenience) it would not be rude. You should not slow down to "punish" them, as this would be rude since you are intentionally impeding them, however if you feel you must slow down for safety reasons because of their tailgating, this would not be rude.

Similarly, some people have mentioned situations where a driver isn't getting out of the left hand lane and is holding up traffic. If they aren't passing, then it is not an undue hardship for them to get out of the way to allow other traffic to pass as long as they can do so safely, so blocking traffic when you could easily and safely get out of the way would be rude.

It should be highlighted that while obstructing faster moving traffic when you have no safe or easy way to avoid it is not rude, that does not mean it is not frustrating. Rude and frustrating are not the same thing. If I am stuck behind slow moving traffic on a country road that my car could handle much faster, I'll be frustrated, but I won't be upset at the other drivers, because they aren't intending to hold me up.

If, on the other hand, they had cut me off to get in front of me and then proceeded to go slowly, I would be annoyed at them because they needlessly impeded me by forcing their way in front and then going slow.

If you don't want to rude when driving, do your best to avoid impeding others, but don't feel like you need to compromise your personal feeling of safety for someone else's convenience. There's no guarantee that they won't misconstrue your actions, but if they have a problem with you placing your safety over their convenience, they are the one being rude.

4

It's certainly not rude to properly follow the law. Even without the speed limit, if you don't feel safe driving particularly fast, always stick to whatever speed you feel safe with!

That being said, there are, of course, lower limits of what is a reasonable speed. On some roads those are even enforced by law, on others it's just common sense, e.g. to not drive in walking speed on a normal road under normal everyday circumstances.

So, in your case, you are totally doing the right thing, legally and morally.

Still, if you feel generous and it is no issue for you, you can always decide to be extra nice by assuming someone behind you has good reasons for being in a hurry and let them pass when there is a good opportunity by briefly pulling over. The closer you are to the speed limit the more this is a total courtesy - the slower (and further away from the limit) you are, the more it is something one might expect from you or law might even require. For instance, in some European countries it is expected that slow trucks/tractors on a single lane road pull over once in a while to let faster traffic pass.

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    Often, the law requires slow drivers to pull over for faster drivers. So it is not simply "generous" to pull over, its the socially appropriate thing to do and its often the law. The speed limit has nothing to do with your requirement (socially and legally) to pull over for faster drivers. – B T Jul 20 '17 at 18:55
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    @BT If you are overspeeding, i.e. going over the speed limit, then no, the socially appropriate thing is not to get out of your way. You're already in the wrong for wanting to drive faster than legal. With that attitude, I'd be happy to let you pass, but only right in front of that corner where the speed camera is. (And I'm not even saying speed limits need to be 100% enforced). Oh, but I'd be interested in those laws. – Frank Hopkins Jul 20 '17 at 19:01
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    @Darkwing The law is different for single-lane vs. multi-lane roads. On multi-lane roads, nearly every U.S. state does indeed have a requirement to not block the left lane, even if you're going the speed limit. The exact details vary by state, but the general idea of slower traffic must keep right is the same. There's a list of such laws here. Requirements for actually pulling over on single-lane roads are different, though, and vary more by state. – reirab Jul 20 '17 at 19:13
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    @Darkwing The U.S. may be different from what you're used to in that the average flow of traffic is actually a bit faster than the speed limit in most places, though whether that's true and the degree to which traffic exceeds the speed limit varies by region. Where I live, normal highway traffic averages 2-5 mph above the speed limit. On I-75 in downtown Atlanta, it's more like 30 mph above the speed limit and driving the speed limit would be very, very unsafe, let alone doing so in the left lanes. – reirab Jul 20 '17 at 19:16
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    @Darkwing Here's the one for California, for example. Note that the conditions are that you're driving "less than the normal speed of traffic" with at least 5 vehicles lined up behind you, not "less than the speed limit." If other traffic is driving faster than the speed limit, you're still required to pull over and let them pass. And, law or no law, it's the polite thing to do in every state. – reirab Jul 20 '17 at 20:22
3

It certainly isn't rude in the context you provided. Tailgating on the other hand is both rude and dangerous, but that ground has already been heavily covered by other answers.

I just wanted to point out a related experiment from Atlanta in 2007:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1588989/posts

https://youtu.be/1B-Ox0ZmVIU

Basically a group of college students took 4 cars and lined them up across all four lanes of Atlanta's infamous​ I-285 and drove at the posted speed limit of 55mph for 30 minutes. The result was gridlock and bedlam. The students filmed it and won a prize for best comedic short and made a rather pointed statement about civil obedience


To address the broader speed limit issue...

My dad was a firefighter for a lot of years. His theory on the speed limit was that it's generally posted well below the speed that authorities expect people to actually drive at. More or less they post 25 in order to hopefully keep people under 40, 70 to keep people under 90. They know that people will habitually drive 5-10 over the limit, under normal circumstances, and much faster when they're in a hurry, so they account for that...

It isn't rude to obey the rules, but when possible try to cut other drivers a break and let them pass. It's​ more about making a safer, lower stress drive for everyone than about the actual rules.

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    This is just utterly wrong. City streets have maximum speed limits of 25/35 mph depending on the type of street because that relates to how fast a car can be moving and a pedestrian be likely to survive being hit. Please don't encourage people to drive 40 in a 25. The chance of dying goes from 15% to 50%. Drive the speed limit, particularly on neighborhood streets. – Catija Jul 20 '17 at 4:24
  • @Catija I didn't mean to encourage people to do anything dangerous, just stating an uncomfortable reality. Speed limits are often set with a worst case senario in mind, usually an 18 wheeler, a heavy truck with a trailer in tow. Drive the speed limit on any major road and count the number of vehicles that pass and you'll see what I'm talking about. – apaul Jul 20 '17 at 5:30
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    For a while I went thru a phase where I only dated cops daughter's. Two of them have separately told me that they will not pull someone over unless they're going at least 15 over. My drivers ed class also taught that it's ok to go 5 over if that's what the rest of traffic is doing. – I wrestled a bear once. Jul 20 '17 at 16:58
  • @Catija - it's true. Typically the principle in use is the "85th percentile" to define speed limits. This site has an explanation: aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/… – Rory Alsop Jul 20 '17 at 18:00
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    I'll agree that driving at the posted speed limit on the highway is not a good idea - I've experienced that firsthand from multiple viewpoints. I'm not sure how well that transfers over to the windy roads in my case. – HDE 226868 Jul 20 '17 at 21:27
3

It is rude to drive anything other than the safe speed, taking into account the road conditions, weather, your familiarity with the road, and the behaviour of other road users.

If someone is tailgating you, that is an unsafe driving condition. You should react to this by slowing down further. This will mean that the person tailgating you has more time to react if you need to stop suddenly, reducing the chances of them killing you.

2

I don't think it's rude, although the driver behind you might think otherwise. You are obeying the law, and the person behind you is not respecting that and risking yours and his/her lives; that's the one being rude.

My advice is get out of his way anyway, one way or another. Let the idiot kill someone else!

  • Hi, Welcome to Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange. I appreciate your answer, but can you explain a bit more why you believe it's rude? Thanks. – HDE 226868 Jul 20 '17 at 11:26
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    I said it's not rude, and my explanation has been added. I stand by the advice I give, even though it seems to be good for a couple of downvotes. – Ben Hillier Jul 20 '17 at 11:54
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    Right, let the idiot behind you pass at the first possible moment. It's not fun being slammed into from the behind even if you are in the right for stopping for a deer or a log on the road. You can alway smile and wave when you pass the idiot later,when he is pulled over or has driven off the road in an unexpected sharp bend. – Lenne Jul 23 '17 at 10:34
-1

Yes, it is rude, and the law has nothing to do with it. It's simply a matter of the OP's refusal to make any effort to be accommodating to others whom they are annoying. The law, and anyone's obedience to it or lack thereof, is irrelevant.

They asked about manners, not legality, and deliberately ignoring someone else's distress when you're aware of it, whether you think it's reasonable for them to be distressed by your behavior or not, is rude. Period.

It is also bad manners to post a question in such slanted terms that those answering it are strongly influenced towards one answer, as this poster did. That's not intellectual inquiry, it's asking for emotional support.

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    "OP's refusal to make any effort to be accommodating to others" Well now that's phrased rather strongly. He's asking this question for a start. – Luc Jul 19 '17 at 19:59
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    I don't understand how someone with a lead foot who wants to go over the speed limit should be able to dictate the speed of the drivers around them. Why do you think this person is in "distress"? – Catija Jul 19 '17 at 21:17
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    I would appreciate it if you removed the editorializing and tried to make this post answer the question - especially by explaining a bit more why you feel I'm being rude. – HDE 226868 Jul 19 '17 at 21:31
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    Actually I completely agree... but hey, id rather be rude and alive that nice and dead. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Jul 19 '17 at 22:01
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    Why is the OP rude and not the driver behind them? – user403 Jul 19 '17 at 23:36

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