The anatomy of 2 and 3 lane roads

The types of drivers and how they effect traffic flow

[Rough Draft (not spell checked), many of what is expressed here is speculation and educated guesses. I may change a view of the viewpoints presented here with time. Anything within "[]" are my own notes. Criticism of ANY kind is most welcome. Send them to me at or use this form. This paper can not get anywhere without your input!]

There are 4 basic types of drivers:

  1. The slowpokes and religious speed limit obeys.
  2. The slow drivers and casual speed limit obeys.
  3. The fast and generally typical drivers.
  4. The tailgaters and speed demeans.
The 1st and last ones are the ones that create the serious problems. Slowpokes can create traffic havic on a heavily traveled two lane highway and tailgaters are downright annoying and are endangering not only themselfs but you (the driver of the car) too. [Add Speed demeans sentence] The 2nd ones don't generally create a problem but they do often cause people to follow to closely any can be a bit annoying at times. The fast and typical drivers create the smoothest traffic flow and tend to be the safest.

Slow pokes come in all types. There are the downright idiotic drivers that drive slow because there scared to go faster because they are afraid that they might hit someone (generally senior citizens). There are also slow pokes who drive slow because they don't know where there are going. And finally there are those that actually drive the speed limit on 30 and 35 mph back roads. Slow pokes are never wanted on the road. They create serious traffic problems and can even double one's traveling time of a two lane open highway. Yes on an open highway you can generally pass them however in my experience people tend to be reluctant to do this for a variety of reasons. And if there is anything greater than light traffic going the other direction it might be impossible to perform a safe pass. Fortunately they are rare and generally don't clog the highways however when they are on the road they can make EVERYONE'S day miserable.

Slow drivers are the ones that don't like to speed because there afraid of getting caught or those who simply rather not put all there attention on the road. Slow drivers generally don't create a serious problem because they only go 10-15 mph under the fastest safe driving speed for the road (not the speed limit!). However, if you are in a rush they can be very annoying. Slow drivers unfortunately keep the people behind them driving at there speed. Making up 10 to 20 percent of the drivers on the road, they generally dictate the general traffic speed when there is moderate traffic and therefore in my view the 85th percentile speed of the road.

Fast drivers to spite what politicians want you to believe are the safest and most wanted drivers on the road. They tend to drive within 5 mph of the fastest safe driving speed on the road and rarely have people follow them to closely. Fast drivers tend to have there eyes focused on the road not the people and things in it. For this very reason they are alert to what is going on and if something pops up they will generally stop before it is too late. The safest fast drivers will slow down slightly when there is danger ahead or visibility is limited. The truly safe one are the ones that know how to drive not just operate a peace of mechanically. Fast drivers only create a problem when they become extremely aggressive and start tailgatting, passing on extremely close calls, cutting people off. Etc etc.

True Tailgaters are the worse. I'm not talking about folling too closely here I am talking about someone so close that you can barely see there headlight. Tailgatters endanger themselves and the driver in front of them. If anything sudden happens there is a 95% chance that they are going to ram into you. Speed demeans on the other hand are another story. If the driver really knows what they are doing and knows when they can go fast and when they need to slow down they generally or not a problem. However, if they are teenagers who don't know what the hell they are doing and will do 90 on a fairly populated backroad then they are a serious danger to everyone who lives off the road. Because if you are getting the mail there is a good chance that they just might not see you until its too late and then you are either dead or they crash the car avoiding you.

How do you classify yourself?

If you are a regular slow poke I recommend you either get off the road or learn to drive faster. NO one likes you and even on two lane roads you create more accidents than you save.

If you are a religious speed limit obeying on non city streets with a speed limit of 30 and 35 what are you trying to prove? That you can become one of the most hated drivers of all? Take a good look behind you if there are more than 2 or 3 then you are going too slow. Wake up and smell the coffee. That 30 limit there is unreasonable!

If you are a slow driver I recommend you speed up slightly on country roads or at very least pull over once and a while if you got a line of cars behind you.

If you are a fast driver just keep doing what you are doing but please pay attention to the road and not stuff inside your car. You never know when something might sneak up up on you. And if you hit someone or something your likely to be found liable because you are speeding when the true problem was that you got distracted. This is what caused the famous "speed kills" slogan.

If you are a tailgater I recommend you cut it out. That person is no more likely to pull over than if you give him some room. If you wish to say to him that I want to get by, follow a little closely until he sees you than back up. If he doesn't get the idea do it again. Even though it might be considered a bit rude you might try flashing you lights at him (hay its better than tailgetting). [Is this a downright unacceptable practice even if there is not a passing zone for miles and he is really going slow?] I haven't tested it [Any one that has?] but I am sure you will get better results than just plain tailgetting the person.

If you are a speed demeans that is generally ok as long as you know what you are doing and you act responsibly. Just don't drive 100 through small towns and when there are other things close to the road even if the speed limit is 55.

© 1995 by Kevin Atkinson

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