Monday, April 11, 2011

Who Are These People . . .

And WHY are they following me so close?
nj turnpike signThat was the feeling I had Sunday while driving on the NJ Turnpike. I was travelling in the slowest lane and doing at least 10 miles over the posted 65mph speed limit – just to keep pace with other cars in the same lane.
Then, I look in my rear view mirror and all I see is the white hood of a car following so close that not even the headlights were visible. Now that’s pretty darn close!

What to do?
There was so much traffic in the lane next to mine, thattraffic moving wasn’t an option. Besides, I wasn’t the one who wanted to go faster and that wasn’t an option as there was already a car in front, a whole line in of cars. Jamming on the brakes was a bad idea for 2 reasons: the tailgating jerk might ram my back door and than my car front would be pushed into the rear of the car ahead.
Since Libby, my Jeep Liberty, already had the tail gate replaced last September after being hit, braking was not an option.
WHAT was the the guy in back of me trying to prove? OK, if making me nervous was the goal – it worked.
Just when I was wondering how long he would tailgate, he suddenly moved into the other lane.
WHEW, I could relax, but only briefly. When I looked in the mirror a few minutes later, there’s a black SUV, again following so closely that the front grill and headlights couldn’t be seen in my rear view mirror.
Scary, it sure was at the time and annoying even now.

Today, I read online that NJ has a tailgating law, stating: “The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of the preceding vehicle and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway.” N.J.S.A 39:4-89.
Also learned that especially on the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway – tailgating is the second most common cause of car accidents (ya think?). turnpike trafficWhile the law doesn’t specify a required distance between two cars, in ideal highway conditions a car should have one car length between vehicles for every 10 miles per hour the cars are traveling. For example, two cars traveling 60 miles per hour should have six car lengths between them.
RIGHT – when do cars travelling on not only the NJ toll roads but ANY major highway adhere to this rule?

WHERE is a state police officer when you really need one?
Thankfully, there were no further incidents like this one, although I did watch countless motorists zipping in and out of lanes. And, oh joy, I get to make the return trip home next weekend on this road.


Cicero Sings said...

People are crazy fast these days and I absolutely hate tailgaters! I pick my travel times around when there is the least traffic if at all possible. If the traffic gets too wild, I pull over and let the nutso-s by. But we don't have traffic anywhere near what you have there. Whew! I can't imagine a 4 lane freeway ... 4 lanes all going one way that is. I'd be a nervous wreck. That is why I live up here in the country. Still, I must make forays down to the big city every 6 weeks or so and face the maniacs.

Anonymous said...

Well,,,, i guess you forgot to load the 'photon torpedos' or your 'phasers' weren't charged.
BUT glad that you made it, and can't wait for you to get home. You forgot to tell the folks that the Turnpike is 12 lanes wide, 6 each direction. What fun!!!!!!

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Well, driving on the California freeways, especially on the 91, tailgating is also an issue. There is supposed to be one car length for every ten miles per hour you are traveling..
Are you laughing??? :) Me too!!!

Lois Evensen said...

Try driving through Jacksonville, Florida. All the crazies are on the road there. Same story, just sunnier.

Elaine said...

I absolutely hate traveling on the freeways like that. I would much rather take the long way around if at all possible, but sometimes that just doesn't work. Whenever we travel it's a bit of a shock to the system to get onto the freeways again. Needless to say we don't have any roads like that here.

possum said...

This is why I refuse to drive in NJ!
But let me ask a question... if there HAD BEEN a trooper - which one would he have stopped? And HOW could he have gotten thru the traffic to get the guy behind you?
When folks get that close behind me, I turn my windshield wipers on... the spray on their windshield ususlly makes them drop back a bit.
I'll be glad when you are safely home! Come by and have a cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

In the old days we used to pull on the headlights, which made the tail lights come on and fool the person behind you that you were braking. Doesn't work as well any more. You could hit your all flash hazard lights. Possibly the person would no longer want to be behind you. You have me thinking there should be special insurance one can take out for short periods when one muct be driving in those dangerous circumstances. Get home safely.

Sandra said...

this story is the exact reason I hate all interstate driving that is close to a major city. When leaving town we always leave at 4 or 5 am to miss the Tampa traffic, every idiot in the state of FL tries to go to Tampa and from their to Orlando at the same time and in the same lane. add to your NJ story that about 65 percent of the population here is over the age of 65, WAY over that age, drive in a rest area, watch the driver get out of the car. it takes 10 minutes just to stand up, then get the walker/wheel chair out of the back seat. and here in FL the person tailgating you has ZERO reflex muscles. In 1980 i drove semi with my husband. we would do anything to stay off the NY turnpike YIKES

Anonymous said...

We have the same problem and the same law over here too. I just can´t understand why they need to be so close!!! Especially on our roads where there isn´t a lot of traffic!

We have the three seconds rule the police follows. The gap between the cars must be three seconds or more otherwise they can stop the car that is to close and fine them, I wish they did that more often!

Have a great day now!

Daisy said...

Sounds like a nerve-wracking trip. I'm glad you arrived safely. I hope the return home is a little less frantic.

Out on the prairie said...

I slow down a bit for these people, I am not used to heavy traffic anymore.

Anvilcloud said...

Tailgating is so silly! As if you get there any faster by squeezing those few inches, feet whatever.

Ruth said...

We drove to NYC a couple of years ago and the turnpike was a frightful experience. I am used to driving on busy highways, but the speed and proximity of the other cars, especially on an road unfamiliar to us, was unpleasant.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi All, thanks for all the comments and sharing you stories too. NJ is a small state but very congested which is why we are so glad not to live here anymore, but on the VA eastern shore.

Cicero, I wish I could have pulled off and let these idiots go by. Like you, I also pick travel times and Sunday at least avoided commuters and construction workers, but not nutso drivers!

Grenville, MISS YOU 2, and 3 and 4 more.

Mona, we spent a month driving CA freeways when our grandson was born there 4 years ago. he was a "preemie" and had to spend the first couple of weeks in a neo-natal unit.We're glad he and his parents are now in RI. Yeah, that distrance travelling rule is really funny. It's not even followed off highway.

Lois and Sandra, I've heard from other friends that FL driving is an experience. Glad we cancelled a road trip there this year and might be re-thinking that destination. WOW, Sandra driving a semi with hubby, you must really have some road tales. We travel the NY thruway when we head to New England and it is NOT fun.

Elaine, travelling out of Fairbanks must be quite an experience and you have done a far amount.

Thanks Possum, it will be good to be home and relax with a cup of tea. Odd thing is that I didn't see a single state trooper, so good question about who would they stop; good suggestion about the rear windshield wiper.

Christer, it seems tailgating is indeed worldwide and in your quiet part of the world it seems odd that folks would be in such terrible rushes. There's a similar following rule here in the U.S. but enforcement is seemingly quite lax, undoubtedly the police are sometimes too busy with accidents resulting from tailgaters.

Daisy, I hope getting home is less hectic too, thanks.

Steve, you and me both and the older I get the less hurrier I go - what's the point?

AC, seems tailgaters don't get that bit of logic. On local roads, it's always amusing to see someone who has passed you to be stuck in traffic just as you are approaching.

Ruth, when I was living in NJ I never drove to NYC but always took mass transit - call me chicken!

Kjell T. Evensen said...

If I have a car close to my bumper I slow down, sloooowly. There is one thing people forget: no matter how fast they drive, there is always a car in front of them to slow them down.

Ginnie said...

I absolutely refuse to drive in New Jersey ... even though I was born there years ago.
Rt. 22 is a death trap and the congestion is more than I can handle.
If traveling North from North Carolina I always go Rt. 81 and then cut across where I need to.

Country Mouse Studio said...

sounds scary, I'm glad you're safe.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Kjell, and sometimes they remember AFTER they have run into that car.

Ginnie, I'm not fond of driving there either, but sometimes one must and on the plus side I also got to visit a couple of friends BUT had to drive from Plainfield to SOmerville and on Rte 22 too and it is not a fun highway at all.

Thanks Country Mouse and nice of you to visit too!

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