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Kraigmo's avatar

Why do some drivers fail to speed up before approaching an oncoming hill or gradient?

Asked by Kraigmo (7882points) February 4th, 2010

Is it possible that adult-aged Americans really don’t understand basic physics?

Why do so many people fail to speed up before approaching a steep hill?

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8 Answers

Spinel's avatar

Many drivers are to busy texting to consider Newton’s basic principles. And let’s face it: how many of us (excluding the little Einsteins out there) actually remember high school physics?

Kraigmo's avatar

@Spinel, You are right about the texters, and I pray they get in a self-injury accident before they get in a double-injury accident.

As for high school physics… that’s not even necessary.
Anyone with even one tenth of a brain can realize by observation, that cars will save gas and not bunch up on hills…. IF one speeds up before the hill.

Spinel's avatar


A different perspective just crossed my mind: it might be a fear factor. Where I live, there are plenty of hills…and snow. Around here, to go up a hill fast in winter (on either ascend or descent) is foolhardy, due to ice and slush. Slowing down in summer is probably a left over habit from winter.

And then again, some common minded drivers may never ponder it.

p8prclip's avatar

…“get off that cell phone and drive!!!”

augustlan's avatar

I drive through two mountainous areas, two times, several days a week and this drives me CRAZY. I’ve been behind someone who was applying their brakes going up a mountain! WTF? I really do think it’s fear… I just have no other explanation for it.

Spinel's avatar

@augustlan Glad to know, I’m not alone on that “stuck on the mountain” part… ;)

john65pennington's avatar

Many reasons. lack of driving experience, older age driver, not paying attention to their driving, and some are just afraid to go fast,,,,at all. i was behind one tonight on the interstate. it was raining and she was traveling 35 mph on the 70 mph interstate. i am amazed that these slow pokes do not create more accidents than they do. i failed to mention cellphones and text messaging. i saw one tractor trailer driver texting and ran off the side of the road. he could very easily turned over.

Kraigmo's avatar

I just remembered: There’s an Andy Griffith Show episode about this. Officer Barney Fife decides “the law is the law” and he starts to ticket every single driver that speeds before the hill. The Sheriff questions Barney’s wisdom in this, but says “do what you need to do”.

The result: A daily traffic jam up the hill, and on the road leading to the hill… and the entire town of Mayberry hating the police. I think the Sheriff ended up ordering Fife to stop issuing tickets for speeding before the hill.

And i don’t know about other states, but in California, the CHP allows (and prefers) that you speed before hills, and in cases where everyone else is speeding.

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