I May Be Slow But I'm Not A Murderer
July 1, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I drive slowly on our rural roads because of wildlife and people, but this makes other drivers impatient. Should I consider a bumper sticker to acknowledge and explain my behavior, or just try to deal with it? Note: speeding up like a 'normal person', and plowing through baby deer and kids learning to ride bikes, is not an option.

I live in a very rural area with a lot of wildlife on the roads, and lots of sneaky cops too. Also, my car is elderly and does not like to go fast. So I tend to drive at or around the speed limit, which is between 25 and 40 on most roads; 55 on the one main road. I will drive about 5 miles below the speed limit at dusk and dawn and full dark, when wildlife is most active, or if weather conditions make it more unsafe. And yet I have been pulled over for going 40 in a 35 when I was late to an appointment, and given a lecture and an expensive ticket, an experience I do not wish to repeat. I have learned my lesson.

I will pull over to let other cars pass, but on some roads there is no place to do so, due to ditches or vegetation. Sometimes, especially in the summer when our area attracts lots of tourists, I can tell the person behind me is annoyed by my slow progress; they tailgate, flash lights, etc. Again, I will speed up or pull over if it is safe to do so, but sometimes I wish I could explain that this is an area where slow driving is safe driving, because it's near a house with lots of kids, or a wetland in springtime, or because a cop hangs out here on weekends and I am not going to speed up and risk a ticket. But I do feel guilty/embarrassed when I am obviously inconveniencing people who wish to barrel along a twisting wooded road at 60MPH.

Seriously, this is an issue here; there is not a day I have driven where I have not seen at least three or four newly-killed animals such as songbirds, rabbits, cats, dogs, deer and squirrels, and several times I have seen near-misses with bikes, hikers, dog-walkers, joggers, and kids out playing. Non-locals roar down the roads and often end up in ditches; locals are just as bad, especially the teens and the ones throwing beer cans out their windows as they drive. Yes, I am a fussy old grandparent, but I have never killed anything bigger than a caterpillar on our roads and I intend to keep it that way.

Should I get some kind of bumper sticker? I have seen some here that say "Slow Down, This Ain't The Mainland", as we are on an island, and that's sort of what I want to say, except I more want to say "Yes, I drive slowly, because there are wild animals, pets, livestock, joggers, cyclists and CHILDREN all along these roads and I do not wish to cause a tragedy and our local LEOs feel the same, please be patient, pass me if you must, but do consider that you may be running a risk you're not considering" but of course that's a little long for a bumper sticker.

Or should I just hang an onion from my belt and grumble to myself about these darn kids and their hot-rods?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Bumper sticker is a good idea. I vote for "I drive slowly for our kids, wildlife, cyclists, and joggers. Please do the same." Make it a legible sign that doesn't block your view and put it in your rear window.
posted by bearwife at 2:35 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Or should I just hang an onion from my belt and grumble to myself about these darn kids and their hot-rods?

I think you'd be kidding yourself if you thought a bumper stick would do anything other than piss off other drivers. So, yes, just keep doing what you're doing. I mean, get a bumper sticker if you must, but don't expect much to come from it.

If you really want to make a difference on this front, there are other, more effective ways to get people to drive more slowly. There's a group in my neighborhood that's involved with the local government to try to put up strategically placed traffic signals, and they have a sign campaign going on that says, "Slow down. This is a neighborhood."
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've seen a few cars around my state University with messages along the lines of "I drive slow to save on gas. I do not accelerate unduly, and I'm exceedingly cautious when braking. Thanks for your understanding." I'm not sure if you'd be willing to CafePress or whatever some custom stickers, but you might need to work your wording down a bit.

... Seems like bearwife may have you beat! Tell ya what, if you get a design you like I'll spring for a few stickers myself!
posted by endotoxin at 2:37 PM on July 1, 2013

How about this bumper sticker?
posted by orange swan at 2:39 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm perfectly OK with what you do, but I worry that a bumper sticker would just further annoy the tailgaters. From their PoV they may see it as "Not only am I annoying you, I'm doing it smugly and deliberately." The kind of people (jerks, I agree) inclined to tailgate, honk, and flash lights aren't likely to be calmed down by a sticker.
posted by tyllwin at 2:46 PM on July 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yes! I love a safe driver! The bumper sticker suggested by bearwife sounds perfect. But you shouldn't really have to change a thing. You're obeying the law, nothing to feel guilty or embarrassed about there.

As far as getting others to slow down: If anyone has died on that stretch of road you can probably petition the local government to put up a "Slow Down...in memory of [name]" sign. Presumably some of those dogs and cats were pets - perhaps work with the owners to put similar sign at the edge of their lawn.
posted by troika at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2013

Why not just get ""Slow Down, This Ain't The Mainland"?
posted by Ideefixe at 2:51 PM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Is there a bumper sticker that says something like "I drive slowly, pass me or deal with it?"

If not, then I don't know what you're going for here.

Or you could play disney movies on dvd players mounted into your back seat. That might get people to slow down because they'd be watching the movie.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:52 PM on July 1, 2013

Messages such as "I drive slowly for our kids, wildlife, cyclists, and joggers" will be ineffective, since we all already think we're driving the correct speed for avoiding tragedy. Rather, something along the lines of "I have reduced ability to react to known road conditions" would be better.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:52 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

There is a long twisty swampy road that I have to take when I visit my parents that is just like that. There are deer and other critters plus the occasional driver coming from the other direction. I figure I am also saving the life of the impatient son of a gun behind me. Because lots of people have wrecked on that road, and not a few have died. If they pass me, it's on them. They can fume and snort all they want to. It annoys me, but better than than hitting a deer (a real possibility) or missing a turn myself, or head on crashing into another driver.

Own it!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:53 PM on July 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

If you're going slow enough that people regularly cross into the oncoming lane to pass you, please consider whether the net effect of your actions is to make thing safer.
posted by yerfatma at 2:54 PM on July 1, 2013 [34 favorites]

I was thinking a bumper sticker that says "I'm on Island Time."
posted by Sunburnt at 2:58 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

just because some people choose to unsafely pass you is no reason for you to speed up. if you're going the speed limit or 5 under (but not as much as 10 under), then you're just fine. i'm inclined to think a bumper sticker will just piss people off. keep on keeping on.
posted by nadawi at 3:00 PM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Maybe just put your hazard lights on, depending on your locale, if you have aggressive drivers behind you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go no faster than the speed limit. sticker: please do not tailgate.
When I have a car beathing down my neck, I tap the brakes randomly every few seconds...they get uncertain and back off.
posted by Postroad at 3:07 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you're going slow enough that people regularly cross into the oncoming lane to pass you, please consider whether the net effect of your actions is to make thing safer.

Perhaps, but I've been passed by crazy tailgaters on windy mountain roads. Some people are just nuts, and the OP shouldn't speed up for nuts.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

bumper sticker reads as self-righteous. Doing the speed limit is doing the speed limit. They've got no grounds to complain assuming you keep to the right on mulitlane roads.
posted by JPD at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2013

if you want to go the breaking to annoy or confuse route, please don't tap them. instead, just take your foot off the gas and slow down. the break tap is pretty unsafe in tailgating situations.
posted by nadawi at 3:13 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lecturing people on your bumper sticker is going to piss them off even more. Go for funny if you can. "I AM OLD. Until I can let you pass, please turn up your music and enjoy the beautiful drive."
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:19 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Consider focusing your attention on the roads, not your car. You in your car become a target because you are in my way right now. It's an emotionally loaded moment; getting through to people directly like this, as a fellow driver, is hard.

I mean, people put Baby on Board signs up and get ridiculed. That's what you're dealing with.

So take another approach. This is the kind of sign that stops you in your tracks. This thing scares the hell out of me. "Scare cars" get noticed, but bumper stickers are "meh." Or try one of these.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:22 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you feel unsafe being tailgated, slow down gradually. No need for a bumper sticker, hazard lights or anything kind of hand signal or message. Just slow down until you don't feel unsafe any longer. Let the person behind deal with their driving conditions, which include you driving slowly, in the way they feel best.

Meantime, consider having a discussion with your locality's council about how to put that road on a "road diet" so that traffic is moderated. Narrower roads, curvy roads, bumpy roads, shorter sight lines all cause drivers to slow down. If speed is a factor on this road, get the road changed.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Start a petition to install sidewalks and bike lanes along the roads.
posted by florencetnoa at 3:27 PM on July 1, 2013

I can't remember the last time I read the bumper sticker of the car in front of me. Certainly not whilst both cars were travelling along a road.

By all means get one if you want, but I think the only difference you'll see is that you'll be several bucks less well off.
posted by mr_silver at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2013

So many people refuse to believe that the posted speed limit is the upper limit. Five miles per hour below the speed limit is fine. I tend to drive very much like the OP, though I'm not in a rural area at all. Your main concern when driving should be getting yourself where you're going safely (including taking into account the children and other critters in your area!) And you get better gas mileage too!

Skip the bumper sticker and wear that onion with pride, gramps. You are only inconveniencing people who are making the road a more dangerous place from doing so.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:44 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

And yet I have been pulled over for going 40 in a 35 when I was late to an appointment, and given a lecture and an expensive ticket, an experience I do not wish to repeat. I have learned my lesson.

IMO, this changes a lot. It's one thing if you were that person who drives 35-40 on the 40mph road that everyone goes 50-55 or even 60 on, but if it's a regularly patrolled road where the limits are enforced and lots of people generally drive about the posted speed then yes, who cares about the yahoos who want to go 45 in a 35 and get pegged.

I wouldn't get a sticker or anything. Just do what you do, and maybe flip on the hazard lights if someone won't stop tailgating you. A friend of mine used to live out in a rural area with lots of roads like this(including one they called "the highway of death, eugh") and lots of people always roared down them and wrecked. People who went the posted speed would regularly get tailgated and such. They weren't "impeding traffic" because this isn't the interstate, and they aren't sitting in the passing lane.

Don't let other people bully you in to feeling bad about this, or like you're doing anything wrong. It seems from your post that you're already halfway there, but yea. Send a very clear message of "i'm doing what i'm doing, you can do whatever you want" with the hazards if you get tailgated or just continuing on at the posted speed like they don't exist. No brake checking or any nonsense.
posted by emptythought at 3:47 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

5 miles below the speed limit is typically fine even if there's a gung-ho cop behind you. I don't think your problem is pissed-off assholes... I think your problem is that you are letting them bother you. The speed limit is the speed limit. Let 'em tailgate or let 'em pass. Unless they are tapping your bumper with their's and pointing weapons at you, the worst they can do is get angry.
posted by brownrd at 3:54 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Bearwife's idea is nice, but I don't think it would be possible to get all that on a sign/sticker small enough to fit on your car in a font large enough to read - and anyway, if people are reading all that, they're not paying attention to the road.

I'd just keep doing what you're doing. The only behavior you know you can change is yours, and it sounds like you're doing the right thing. If other drivers want to be dicks, that's their problem - as long as you're near the speed limit, you should feel absolutely no shame, and you certainly have nothing to explain or apologize for.
posted by lunasol at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I have a car beathing down my neck, I tap the brakes randomly every few seconds...they get uncertain and back off.

Depending on the driver behind you, brake-checking can escalate an annoyed driver into a road-raging driver. Not worth it.

Just drive predictably. The person behind you will figure out the situation.

(I used to be an angry driver. No more.)
posted by mendel at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you must, I suggest putting something official-looking like "This vehicle makes frequent stops" that is associated with slow, cumbersome driving. That will tip people off that you're no fun to drive behind without making you look like a braggart.
posted by michaelh at 3:58 PM on July 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

If you're driving along at a consistent speed, the problem they have is their own. They either need to learn how to safely pass on a two lane road or need to learn some patience. If you're one of those folks who miraculously gains 10mph in speed while being passed up a hill, stop doing that because it's illegal and dangerous.

Sometimes conditions don't allow people to travel as fast as they would like. It is up to those of us who would like to travel more quickly to be OK with that until conditions present themselves that allow for more rapid movement.

If it's to the point where there's a line of cars a half mile long behind you, people are flashing their lights at you, and there are places to pull aside and allow people to pass, you should do so. Otherwise, have an enjoyable drive!
posted by wierdo at 4:15 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please consider that driving substantially slower than the posted speed limit is statistically just as dangerous as speeding. It's the Solomon curve. As you piss people off they are more likely to overtake in unmarked zones, increasing the chance of an accident. Another scenario is you casually tooling around a blind curve and someone unaware comes up behind you at normal speed and hopefully is able to maintain control as they break to avoid running into the back of your slow moving vehicle. Some insurance companies advise normal speed drivers to first use patience, then flash lights, then toot the horn to get the slow moving vehicle to pull over or speed up. Also, when you slow down more traffic behind you, you increase traffic volume, which leads to more accidents. You might want to take a look at some more findings here.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 4:25 PM on July 1, 2013 [14 favorites]

The North Fork of Long Island is a similarly rural area with lots of single lane roads and fairly low speed limits. At the very eastern tip of the island there's a ferry to Connecticut, which many Long Islanders will use when going north to avoid NYC traffic. Driving out there once I saw a local who's car had a bumper sticker that addressed this same phenomenon you speak of. It read, "I don't care if you're late for the ferry." I thought it hit the sweet spot--it was kinda funny but unapologetic, and I never forgot it!
posted by Jemstar at 5:22 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're fine. Worst case, make sure your headrests are properly adjusted (for the unlikely event they rear-end you) and try to forget they're there and spend your concentration on making sure you're reading the road ahead.
posted by ambrosen at 5:48 PM on July 1, 2013

I tend to drive pretty slowly too (at most the speed limit, often somewhat below) and when I'm being tailgated, I just think of all the times that me or my kids have almost been creamed by a speeding driver, or my dog that was killed by such a driver, transfer that anger to the tailgater, and then I don't feel bad at all for holding them up.

spitbull: if the island the OP lives on is anything like the one I live on, the speed limit is truly too high for the road conditions. Lots of blind corners and hills, single lane with no shoulder whatsoever, often a ditch immediately beside the pavement, and residential areas with lots of kids, pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife that sneak up on your around a corner. A 50 km/h limit means people regularly drive 70 km/h, which is crazy -- even 50 km/h is too fast around these blind corners. Unfortunately the provincial ministry of transportation refuses to lower speed limits on "rural" roads. I've seriously considered putting guerrilla speed-bumps in my neighbourhood at night.
posted by Emanuel at 7:33 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Do not start a smalltext aside conversation here
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 PM on July 1, 2013

Spitbull is right that no bumper sticker or passive-aggressive behaviour is going to work. The power you have with your friends doesn't transfer to strangers stuck behind. You cannot persuade them to slow down.

It doesn't matter whether you're right that they're driving too fast, and just as they cannot know what speed is safe for you, you probably don't know what speed is safe for them. If we are lucky to grow old one day, we are will have reduced reaction times and so we should be driving more slowly, and yet there is one speed limit for everyone. It is a bad attitude for either of you to assume the other person is wrong.

What you can do is try to calm them down about your driving so that they aren't tempted to do anything crazy. Put up a joke about being old and worried. How about "I AM OLD and I don't want to drive over your children!"
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:01 PM on July 1, 2013

I throw on my hazard lights when anyone is tailgating me - this is in Los Angeles.

Fuck people who speed. They'll figure it out. I also pull over and don't block traffic. I DO feel annoyed with folks who flaunt the speed limit. I use my hazard blinkers to let them know I won't go above the speed limit.

Works like a charm:)
posted by jbenben at 12:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

My car was totalled when I was rear ended by a tailgating pickup truck on a narrow road. A fox ran in front of my car and I had to brake to avoid smooshing it. The driver of the truck was tailgating and texting and didn't even brake. Now I always, always pull over to the side to allow tailgaters to pass. I'm safer once that thoughtless ass is as far away from me as possible and he's not going to go away any faster than if I let him go around.
posted by cellura p at 5:02 AM on July 2, 2013

But I do feel guilty/embarrassed when I am obviously inconveniencing people who wish to barrel along a twisting wooded road at 60MPH.

If where they were going was so important, the city would have issued them a car with lights and sirens.

You shouldn't feel guilty due to the actions of others. Not only are you helping keeping wildlife alive, you are potentially saving people or at the very least saving them the trouble of a wreck and/or ticket. You're already going above and beyond by pulling over to let them pass when you are able. Also, you are not really delaying them much at all. Let's say you are going 40mph and they want to go 50mph. Let's also say you will reach a part of the road where they can pass/you will pull over in two miles. Following behind you at 40mph it will take them three minutes to travel the two miles. If you weren't there the would have covered the same distance at 50mph in two and a half minutes. Thirty seconds is not a big difference, especially if they are going to come up to a stoplight at some point anyway.

When someone gets pretty aggressive with the tailgating or flashing lights (or in one case continuously slowing down and then speeding up to just behind me) I very deliberately reach up to my rear-view mirror, place my hand on it, and point it at the floor of the car. You already know they are tailgating, no need to deal with the lights or their grill in your face! Plus it sends the message that you don't care about their bullying tactics.
posted by mikepop at 6:40 AM on July 2, 2013

Your car aint that wide. Pull over and let them by.

It's not your job to teach them to drive like you do. It's not your job to enforce the speed limit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:13 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you feel the need for a bumper sticker, maybe something like, "I'm broke from speeding tickets. Please be gentle."
posted by houseofdanie at 7:25 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Guys, the OP KNOWS to pull over when it's possible. OP just wants to know if there's anything that can be done in situations where they can't pull over.

I hear ya, OP, because I run into the same problem (and I'm not even old--just a relatively new driver still), and I've thought about a bumper sticker warning people too ("Newbie Driver--Watch Out!"). I just strongly suspect a bumper sticker would just make the road ragers want to deliberately hit me MORE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:27 AM on July 2, 2013

It's also not the OP's job to clear the roadway for people who want to go faster. The OP is already pulling over occasionally to let cars pass. That is more than ample accommodation. To pull over every time a car wants to go faster, especially on a narrow or curvy stretch, is inconvenient and probably often unsafe.
posted by mikepop at 7:29 AM on July 2, 2013

Mod note: Please direct answers towards the OP and maybe refrain from further generalized driving advice?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on July 2, 2013

I drive the speed limit on my twisty, no-passing, no shoulders, dark, through-the-forest road. I still managed to hit a deer at night once (but he was okay!), which reaffirmed my decision to drive carefully. Other people, however, apparently think the road is a roller coaster. They are assholes. I don't care if I inconvenience them by making them get to their location one minute later. I don't do anything to intentionally piss them off, like slowing below the speed limit or flashing my lights, but I also don't go out of my way to enable their aggressive driving. Nothing you put on your car will make them more reasonable, and many things will likely just piss them off more. Stop feeling guilty.
posted by Safiya at 9:29 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just grumble. This is their problem. The same pushy drivers will get pissed off over combines, bicyclists, and cows in the road--it is what they do. But they wouldn't run over a combine, and they probably won't run over you. Driving well above or well below the speed limit is dangerous (as spitbull points out, they are not arbitrary) so if you are driving within 5 mph of the limit there should be nothing wrong. Take a deep breath and keep going.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2013

I don't understand what going 5-under accomplishes that going the actual posted speed limit does not. People get annoyed because you are going below what surrounding traffic expects and, as other have stated, there are lots of reasons going too slow is as unsafe as going too fast.

If you go the actual speed limit, I suspect you will find people are less aggressive. I agree there is no reason to go over the speed limit if you are not comfortable/safe doing so.
posted by juliplease at 11:50 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to convey the fact that you are driving slowly on purpose and will continue to do so, you might consider a slow moving vehicle sign. Hopefully this will get your point across and keep you (and other drivers) safer than you would be otherwise.

As was said above, your driving habits/bumper stickers are probably neither the most proper nor most effective way to influence others' driving habits. However if you want to increase your vehicle's visibility and warn other drivers that you will be driving slowly, I think this is a good option.
posted by kaytwo at 12:49 PM on July 2, 2013

Mod note: Please direct answers to the OP and don't argue with other commenters.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:03 PM on July 2, 2013

I know where all the cops are!
posted by the latin mouse at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2013

OP, since you state in your question that you go at the speed limit most of the time and just 5mph under in bad weather, etc. I would advise against a slow moving vehicle sign. That is really for things like farm tractors, construction equipment, horse-drawn buggies that have a top speed of 10 - 20mph - not for cars travelling at 55mph (or at whatever the limit is) as you state you do.
posted by mikepop at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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