Driving Observations On A Clear New Jersey Morn

I’ve noticed a certain behavior on NJ roads that I’ll label “ad hoc wingman/symbiotic relationships”, which is a fancy way of saying “complex drifting”. The behavior is identifiable as such:
You note a driver that has chosen a speed and general behavior/car body language stance that, in large part, represents your own. You consciously (or, in some cases, subconsciously) then tack your own speed, position and course almost directly to theirs, in effect making them “point man”. You take cues from them in terms of upcoming obstacles, reductions in speed, avoiding other drivers, etc. and, as such, are better able to maneuver your way through traffic. Additionally, the lead driver can often act as a “speed trap scout”/buffer, giving you additional intelligence on the positions of the local constabulary. This ad hoc relationship obviously ends when the routes of your respective cars diverge.
I have played both point man and wing man regularly and, while the greatest share of the benefits of this relationship would seem to go to the wing man (and they do), there is in fact a strong psychological benefit for the point man that keeps the relationship from devolving into a strictly parasitic one. Being “chosen” as a point man tends to give me a confidence boost, as well as the endorphin boost that accompanies such self-confidence.
So, dear readers, please let me know: have you experienced similar behavior? Is it limited to New Jersey and/or Southeastern Pennsylvania, or have you encountered it elsewhere? What are the specific downsides to such relationships that you can think of?


Yeah, that happens all the time here in NJ, I have definately been in the same situation very frequently, especially on Route 1. I enjoy being on point much better then wing when I am familiar with the area. When I am driving somewhere unfamiliar, I usually drive wing and hope the person on point has a radar detector!

I encounter this nearly any time I take a road trip.
I don’t know that I have a real preference for either point or wingman.
When I’m on point, I usually opt for a driving speed of about +10 over. That’s my typical highway speed anyway. Being up front is good from a visibility stand point. That’ll help you avoid a lot of obstacles, such as large road debris or unfriendly traffic situations. Sometimes I drive a bit more conservatively because I know I’m the sacrificial lamb. I also worry a bit more because although my car is not of the sports variety, it is red and shiny.
Being wingman is a bit more relaxing. Plus I’ll usually drive faster as a wingman (I like to think of it as drafting, BTW) since I assume I have eyes in front of me scouting for the police.
I personally like have a double point-wingman combo. In that system it’s good to have a similar group a couple hundred yards ahead of you. They’ll generally make everyone aware of faster drivers, getting many of them out of the way. Additionally, with them being so far ahead, you know in plenty of time the existance of police.

you have to run in packs in NJ. You help each other out when it comes to lane changes by blocking and allowing your pack to continue on. Alas, I live in a land that doesn’t know the reason there is a left lane though.

There is a solemn responsibility incumbent upon those who choose to run in the rarified air known as the “Left Lane” and those who choose to take said responsibility must abide by The Code, or all is lost.
The Code of the Left Lane

  1. Thou shalt travel at least 5 miles per hour faster than those consigned to the Purgatory of the Right Lane, lest thou risk the fearsome wrath of other Left Laners.
  2. Thou shalt move to the right at the earliest possible convenient time shouldst another Left Laner approach thy rear bumper at a considerable rate of speed, lest thou risk Fearsome Wrath.
  3. Thou shalt use the Left Lane when in close proximity to the dreaded Entrance Ramps so that those wishing to enter and potentially become Left Laners themselves may do so unimpeded.
  4. Thou shalt not use cell phones or other distracting devices in the Left Lane, as such distractions might impede thy observance of the other tenets of The Code.
  5. If Slow Goers are occupying the Left Lane, approach their bumpers at a reasonable speed and maintain an uncomfortable following distance as a method for expressing thy disapproval. Thou shalt not fly up and slam thy brakes, as that is behavior reserved for idiots and charlatans.

I am accepting applications for further additions to The Code.

Here are some other rules I follow:
1. When traffic is all boxed up (meaning there is solid traffic across all lanes as far as you can see in front and behind) and the person behind me is closer to my butt than my jeans even though there is nowhere to go and even if there was, nobody will be going any faster, that’s when I decide that my windshield is in need of a good long spray from the window washers.
2. When someone is doing the speed limit, or even BELOW the speed limit in the left lane, I agree it is not a good idea to fly up behind them and slam on the brakes. A much safer approach would be to flash those high beams. Actually, it’s about the only time I ever use high beams. 🙂
3. A real rule: When you are driving in said left lane and all of a sudden, everything backs up for whatever reason, it is a good time to flash those hazards a couple times to let that moron who is only inches behind you that you are not just burning off a few MPH, but that you are ACTUALLY stopping.
4. Here is a rule my friend does but I don’t recommend. When you are on those dark, two-laned roads and the moron coming at you forgets his high-beams are on or is just a jerk and doesn’t care, my friend drifts into the left lane until the oncoming moron turns off his lights and then swerves back into the right lane. This way, if there is any incident, the cause of the accident will be negligence of the person with the high beams on because he was so blinded by the brightness, he couldn’t see the road.
5. This isn’t a rule but one thing that really peeves me off is when you are driving down a congested highway and everyone is doing 70 MPH but the speed limit is 65 MPH and all of a sudden people see a cop in a speed trap, that they slam on the brakes until everyone is doing 35 MPH!!!! Hellooooooo, 65 is still OK!!
6. Probably my biggest gripe of all time is people who don’t use turn signals. (I guess this isn’t a rule either, but who’s counting.) Oh turning? Too lazy to move that one finger an inch to let everyone else in the world no what you are doing?? Aaargh!

I remember rigging Powfer Stouers broke down rabbit to spray cars to it’s sides with the windshield wipers. Then the side window came out and I wante to know what a lemon did. I can’t be quiet.

I prefer “traveling buddies”, and I encourage “scouts” to go out and flesh out the speed-traps. Whenever someone speeds pass me, I give them a salute and a healthy “Onward Scout!!”. As to “traveling buddies”, 10 mph is healthy, and I try to alternate point-wing if the other “buddy” gets it…