There’s Such A Thing As Too Much Caution

Beyond the basic rules of the road, every driver needs to be familiar with the principles of defensive driving, the idea that you should watch out for other vehicles which may ignore these rules and act unpredictably. It may rankle you to let these drivers get away with acting irresponsibly, but when it comes to traffic it’s more important to be safe than to be right.

However, as is true with everything else, it’s possible to take cautious driving too far. In the process of avoiding a dangerous situation, you may wind up acting unpredictably yourself and ultimately make things more dangerous for someone else. While it’s good to watch out for what the other guy is doing, you should keep a few things in mind so you don’t endanger anyone else.

Don’t Accelerate From A Tailgater

Tailgating is an unsafe (and mostly pointless) practice where someone drives too close to the car in front of him or her to safely brake if there’s an emergency. Tailgating usually happens when the rear driver wants to go faster and is feeling impatient, and so if you’re the lead car you may feel tempted to accelerate until the person behind you no longer feels the need to ride your bumper.

However, this isn’t a good idea for a couple different reasons. In the first place, you’ll most likely wind up going at a speed which is significantly above the limit, and if you aren’t comfortable at such a speed you may end up making a dangerous mistake. In the second place, there are other reasons to tailgate, reasons such as habit and a desire to shave off a few miles per gallon by using the slipstream effect. Finally, your need for speed may lead you to tailgate the next car in front of you, compounding the problem without solving a thing.

Highways Have Minimum Speeds

Some highways and freeways will post a minimum speed limit for the road, usually somewhere between 10-20 mph below the maximum speed limit. In Florida, for instance, there’s an absolute minimum limit of 40 mph on interstate and defense highways with four lanes or more. However, even when there isn’t a posted minimum speed, nearly every state has a statute which states that no vehicle can drive so slowly that it disrupts traffic.

Usually, offenders caught by this law are truck drivers who are towing too much weight for their engine, but occasionally a cautious driver may feel tempted to go slowly in order to avoid the dangers of a high-speed accident. By going so slowly, however, you become the hazard: a car coming up from behind may not realize that you’re moving slowly and may either brake or change lanes too late to avoid a collision. If there’s no passing lane, you may also cause traffic to back up for miles behind you, the very definition of disrupting traffic.

A little caution is always a good thing, but a little caution can go a long way. You can become too cautious by concentrating too much on how you intend to react to a problem and by failing to think about how other people are going to react to you. Remember, the most important thing to do on the road is avoid any accidents, and that can sometimes mean acting quickly instead of cautiously..