Open letter to Northern Virginia Drivers:

You may not realize this, but riding my bumper in heavy traffic will not make the hundred thousand cars in front of me go any faster.

I believe in maintaining a safe distance with the car in front of me.  That is generally defined as 2 seconds of interval (some would say 3 seconds, but I learned 2 way back when and that’s served me well up to now so 2 seconds is my rule of thumb).

That means that I’m going to have a reasonable amount of space between myself and the vehicle in front of me.  I’m going the same speed they are and closing that distance isn’t going to make the 99,999 cars in front of them go faster any more than you riding my bumper makes the 100,000 in front of me go any faster.

In the two months of driving in Northern Virginia traffic, I’ve realized that a fair amount of you don’t have any concept of “safe distance” (when I can’t see your headlights in my rear-view…especially considering the tiny little car I’m driving up here…I’m pretty sure you’re too close) and refuse to maintain more than a hair’s breadth distance between my car and yours.

So…over the past few weeks, I’ve begun doing it for you.

You’re welcome.

If you are closer to me than a two second interval, I will slow down to a speed that makes whatever distance you are from me become a two second interval.  If that speed is 1mph…so be it.  The closer you get to me, the slower that speed will become.

Yes: I know it probably causes traffic tie ups for 20 miles when I do that.  Perhaps it’s just as inconsiderate of me to be reluctant to take a chance on having your two ton SUV end up in my back seat as it is for you to put me in that position…but I guess that’s something I’m just going to have to live with.

So, here’s the tip:  If the car in front of you keeps going slower and slower for no apparent reason to you…that’s probably me.

Get the heck off my bumper, maintain a safe distance, and I’ll speed up to the flow of traffic.

Fair enough?

Lucky for you I’ve only got one more week in this hell-hole and I’ll be back down south where I belong.  Then you may feel free to drive in whatever idiotic fashion you choose.

Update:  To be fair, percentage-wise, there are probably just as many tailgaters in Hampton Roads as there are up here…it’s just that, because there are so many more cars on the road up here, the sheer raw numbers makes it seem like every other driver is actively trying to kill you.

Considering the fact that there is so much congestion up here if someone sneezes too hard while driving it causes a ten mile backup, you’d think people would be more careful not to do anything stupid that would throw a monkey wrench into things.

But you’d be wrong.

10 thoughts on “Open letter to Northern Virginia Drivers:

  1. Be careful Curt! Remember what happened to ME when I had a tailgater that caused a major pile-up on the interstate 2 years ago when they plowed into me as I was slowing down trying to get in the right lane to escape them. Remember that _I_ was the ONLY person ticketed and charged with reckless driving for trying to avoid a tailgater! It cost me $2,500 to get a good lawyer to protect my interest when I went to court for the 15 seconds it took the judge to throw the baseless charges out and release me while asking where the instigator of the incident, the tailgater, was and why THEY weren't there/charged!

    Be very careful my friend. I had a taste of VA justice and it was bitter indeed!

  2. I remember my driving instructor in HS telling me that basically every answer to a problem on the highway was to increase following distance. Distance buys you reaction time, and that *should* hold up well as a defense in court.

  3. I grew up and learned to drive in Fairfax County and environs. The drivers *are* trying to kill you. I personally wouldn't have been, but I've always felt that NoVA drivers are actively murderous as a group.

  4. Dude, why is it even a problem? If they hit you, its there fault. Just don’t look at em. I’m from New York City and I drive crazy, so driving in NoVA I feel like people are less crazier. The highways get crazy congested down here though. There is never any room! People do some crazy stuff. I’ve seen people drive on the shoulder!!

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