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Write What You Drive

A showcase of independent motoring journalism and automotive travails

Underspeeding - The Real Middle Class Anti-Social Behaviour

There was an article in the news a few years back in which an outgoing Police chief stated that breaking the speed limit is the Middle-Classes' take on Anti-Social Behaviour. Trapped behind a Honda Jazz driving through Worcestershire a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but wonder if under-speeding is just as much, if not more anti-social.

I've always been determined that JTurn not become a receptacle for rants and raves - as both a motorist and cyclist I would certainly have enough to keep it supplied should I so choose - but I don't think I'm highlighting or suggesting anything here that competent drivers shouldn't be doing anyway.

Perhaps the advent of full-time work has put additional pressures on my spare time to the extent that any delay on non-productive time such as road journeys infuriate me far more than they used to. Whatever the cause, it is undeniably frustrating when you are trapped behind a motorist determined to sustain 20 mph under the speed limit no matter what the conditions.

When I learnt to drive, my instructor encouraged me to keep up with traffic and maintain the speed limit where safe to do so - this was also observed on the test. Obviously I would never promote speeding and I'm far more of a stickler for the limits now than when I was unleashed at the age of 17. As the driver of a mid-engined car with a turbocharger and no traction control, I am also an advocate of considering road conditions before deciding what speed is appropriate to drive at.

That said; if you're incapable of maintaining 60 mph on a straight, clear piece of road in a modern car, then there must be questions surrounding your possession of a license. There's an arrogance and lack of consideration to people who decide that because they don't want to drive to the speed limit for whatever reason, nobody else does - impressing a lower value on my time than I am prepared to accept.

Part of the problem, and again something that all motorists should be well aware of, is that a lot of people don't know what the national speed limit sign actually means and what the national speed limit is on a single carriageway...it's 60mph by the way. In fact, the problem is almost exclusive to A and B roads since if somebody decided to drive at 50mph on the motorway, everyone else can overtake very easily.

Obviously you should always adjust your speed based on conditions and not necessarily the limit. This depends on the ability and confidence of driver and car...but if you don't feel comfortable maintaining the speed limit on an open A-road in good conditions, when are you going to? If these limitations are the result of poor eyesight or simply incompetence then again, the possession of a license is questionable - and the driver's decision to venture onto a fast highway even more so.

Another classic is the motorist who doesn't know where they are going or are concentrating so hard on the satnav stuck to their windscreen that they fail to take account of changes in speed limit - or indeed anything else happening around them. Again there is a frustrating selfishness and blinkeredness to this behaviour since they decide that because they want to crawl along or brake suddenly at every junction looking for a right hand turning, everyone else does too.

Then there are those that, for no discernible reason, decide that 45mph in a 60mph area is sufficient - condemning a long line of motorists who perhaps don't want to spend all day on the road to the same fate. I'm afraid I don't understand this mentality at all as the argument that it is safer is, at best, questionable given the increased likelihood of attempted overtakes and harsh braking. Also baffling is the fact that it must just take the culprits so long to get anywhere. I work in the automotive industry where we are forever trying to make it quicker, safer and more economical for drivers to get to their destination - but all the marginal gains we strive to achieve to make peoples' lives better can be eradicated by ignorance.

I have tried to pitch some articles on JTurn to inform and make readers think about what is actually happening at a physical level when they drive - but no logic I can call upon justifies the above behaviour.

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