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 Edmunds.com (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.
DEAR AMY: I have two sisters. My sister “April” is 60 years old. She chooses not to work (her husband has a job).
They recently asked my 87-year-old mother for money to send their son to graduate school (the son does not have a job, either).
My other sister and I told April “no.” I (we) feel that it is not appropriate for our sister to ask my 87-year-old mother to hand her money.
What do you think?
Dear Upset: In essence, I agree with you. But I need to remind you that anyone can ask anyone for anything. However, your mother can (and perhaps should) say a firm “no.”
The key for all of you is to make sure your mother is of sound mind and is financially in good shape, and that your sister, husband, and son are not manipulating or pressuring her.
Graduate school can be extremely expensive, and if giving this money would put your mother in a precarious financial position, you should do everything possible to protect her — and her assets.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the multitude of people wrestling with the issue of being poor housekeepers, when my husband and I were young, we were very messy.
We didn’t really see it, ourselves. Family were undoubtedly talking about us behind our backs.
Eventually, my aunt found something to say that we could hear. She said that we should spend our money as follows: A roof over our heads, food on the table, and third — a housekeeper. This we could hear.
We didn’t feel judged for being messy, just not doing something about it.
Over 30 years later, we have a very clean house!
— Clean and Happy
Dear Clean: Your aunt’s opinion, expressed in a neutral and straightforward way, meant that you could really hear her without becoming defensive.