Ask Amy: Husband's Driving Equals Wife's Anxiety

By Amy Dickinson | October 21st, 2020

Perhaps he should apply the brakes a little more frequently

Woman scared from husband's driving

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for over 30 years. We hardly ever fight, except for when he is driving. I have a fear of riding in a car with him on a busy highway. Whenever we travel together for very long, I am usually such a wreck, I want to cry.

Is it too much to ask that he just ease up a little bit? What does it hurt to only go 10 miles over the speed limit, instead of his customary 15 mph over?

All I ask is that he widen the gap a little between us and the car in front of us.

Right now, he is pouting and going 10 miles below the speed limit in the right-hand lane and not speaking to me. Honestly, it’s the first time traveling that I feel calm. Am I being unreasonable?

— Anxious Wife

Dear Wife: Your husband should appreciate the fact that you value your life, his life, and the lives of other drivers and passengers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that there are about 1.7 million rear-end collisions on U.S. roadways each year. About 1,700 people die in those collisions and another 500,000 are hurt.

A very helpful article I read on (the car rating site) breaks down how dangerous tailgating is: “A vehicle traveling at 60 mph covers 88 feet per second. But stopping that vehicle takes over 4.5 seconds and covers a distance of 271 feet. Why? Because there’s more involved in braking than the actual time your brakes are applied to the wheels (called ‘effective braking’). In particular, ‘perception time’ and ‘reaction time’ add considerable distance to stopping your car.

“When you combine perception and reaction time, a full 132 feet will pass before your car even begins to slow down from 60 mph. So, from the time you perceive a braking situation until the time your car comes to a complete stop, a total of 4.6 seconds elapses. During that time your car travels — it bears repeating — a total of more than 270 feet. That’s almost the length of a football field. Of course, the faster you go, the more time and distance it takes to stop.”

Wet or icy road conditions will add exponentially to the risk of tailgating.

In addition to the danger to you, tailgating is annoying and unnerving to the vehicle in front of you. It is rude, aggressive, and dangerous.

I can only hope that your question will inspire readers to reconsider their own driving. Drivers — please — leave at least three seconds between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

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