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How to get son-in-law to slow down

My son-in-law is a great guy but he drives too fast. I have been with him when he follows too close while also speeding. This worries me as he drives my daughter and two grandchildren around town. They both think I worry too much and drive too slow. How can I get him to understand that driving fast is dangerous?
I seem to remember Click and Clack having some chart showing that for every mile over the speed limit you travel, it increases your chance of a crash by some percentage. Does anyone remember this?
Advice for how to talk to him?

I wish that I had an answer for your situation but unfortunately I do not. I went through the same thing with my daughter at one time. Thankfully after a few years and a few volatile “discussions” she toned it down and drives safely now.

You might get her to read this and beg her to seriously weigh the consequences of what could happen if the SIL’s habits continue. This happened in my neck of the woods a few weeks ago.

The woman who caused this had no concern for others in past incidents, had been nailed for pot distribution in the past, and the toxicology report hasn’t been released yet. The dog sitting on her lap also died.

Now 5 children have no mother. You need to beg your daughter to please think what it would be like for her to be in a similar situation; or maybe even the reverse with the grandchildren being killed in an accident. Maybe getting her to see the light could then lead to putting pressure on the SIL to knock the life-threatening stupidity off.

I’ve been in the area many times where this accident happened and 40 MPH can be a bit dicey. Someone doing 90+ is mind numbing stupid.

It is entirely up to your son in law to slow down and nothing you do or say will have much impact…other than he feeling you are nagging him.
Hopefully he will not learn the hard way.

My Dad bought my mom a Mustang back in the late 70s and my dad was afraid of her fast driving.
It was mainly accelerating from a stop that bothered him. One day he rigged a second return spring on the carburetor throttle. This second spring had no effect on the low end of the throttle, but came into play at about half throttle. This kept her at a lower throttle, but she still had the full throttle range if needed.
He never told her about it, but it did make it more pleasant to ride with her.

I did the same with my son because he had gotten a few speeding tickets in his first year of driving. He bought a sporty car and the first chance I got, I added the spring. The car was so new to him, he just thought it was normal for the throttle to be that stiff past half throttle.

If anyone does this, you just want this extra spring to be stiff enough that a little resistance is felt. Not that they have to use both feet to depress the gas.
Someday they may really may need that extra throttle to avoid the semi barreling down on them.


It could be that you just drive too slow. I’d like to see some data supporting your claim before I’d make a judgment against your SIL. How much over the speed limit does he drive? You say he follows too close, do you know how to measure the following distance in seconds? As you get older, the wile accepted 2 second rule seems too close. I find myself now with at least three seconds of interval from the car in front, but I am uncomfortable when riding with my children who are usually at least 2 seconds behind.

I had a friend that drove like this. Tailgated like he was trying to pick the driver’s pocket. He wrecked a car, usually totaled, about every 18 months.

That is until he started racing.

He started autocrossing (racing against time in a parking lot at speeds less than 60 mph) his daily driver. That ended his accidents and he no longer tailgates. He’s done this hobby for 30 years as have I.

Maybe this would work for your SIL. Look for your local Sports Car Club of America chapter and see if they have an autocross, or Solo 2, program. Take him to one. Let him get “infected” with the racing bug. Hopefully, this will solve his problem.

“As you get older, the wile accepted 2 second rule seems too close. I find myself now with at least three seconds of interval from the car in front, but I am uncomfortable when riding with my children who are usually at least 2 seconds behind.”

The recommended safety standard is the Three Second Rule–on dry roads.
On wet roads, there should be at least 4 seconds of distance between you and the car in front.
If the road is icy/snowy, then a minimum of 5 seconds distance is the norm for safety.

Look up George Carlin’s bit on idiots vs maniacs…it’s all relative unless, as Keith pointed out, you can give specific examples of how he violates the majority opinion or established standards.

How can you get your SIL to change his driving behaviors? You can’t.
However, when you all go to the same place, take your own car. If he asks why, tell him.

You can’t get adults to change what they do until they believe that they need to. If you can’t stand it no more, take @“the same mountainbike” 's advice and drive yourself.

“How can you get your SIL to change his driving behaviors? You can’t.
However, when you all go to the same place, take your own car. If he asks why, tell him.”


I have a female friend who likes to drive ~7 feet behind the bumper of the car directly in front of her, and that includes at highway speeds. Because she vehemently denies that she is tailgating, it is just so much easier for me to say, “Let’s take my car, Carol”, rather than endanger myself by riding in her battle-scarred CR-V.

I think that the OP should adopt a similar strategy.

Your son in law will eventually rear end someone and pay a heavy price for this. Hopefully this will put some sense into him.

I have had little success in the past trying to change anyone’s driving behavior. This seems to be a live and learn situation.

Driving fast by itself is not necessarily dangerous; many slow drivers on the other hand, are simply incompetent. I’ve had numerous tickets over my driving life, but never caused a speed related accident.

I like VDC’s idea of offering to drive better than my idea. If he refuses, then drive yourself.
My idea might only keep you from being involved in an accident. VDC’s idea might prevent the accident entirely.

From old school song, don’t try to change people even if you can, Sure some can be taught, some can learn, but like I had to tell a mother in law whose daughter was having domestic troubles, it is not your fight, sure you are a loving caring individual, but as the old saying goes, give me the strength to accept things I cannot change, and give me the strength to change things I cannot accept.

I think the best you can do, you just got to be a good example of a safe driver yourself. When they’re riding with you, they’ll notice. I doubt very much the SIL will change his driving behavior though just b/c of that. But eventually he’ll mature a bit or get into a scary situation and re-think his driving habits. That’s about the best you can do.

Here’s a little story about how a person can change from risky behavior. A good high school friend of mine really enjoyed risk. Not mindless risk, but well thought out engineered risk. Ski jumping and acrobatics on skis, that was one of his risky favorite things to do. And my ski jumping, I really mean ski jumping. The kind they do in the Olympics. He was an excellent athlete, but never made it to the Olympics, not quite Olympic caliber I guess.

Then one day, still when he was in high school, he decided to jump off the top of a 12,000 foot mountain with a hang glider. I’m serious. This had never been done, at least in my area of Colorado. There’s no road up to the top, so he drives to 8000 feet and from there hauls the hang glider up on his back the next 4000 feet in elevation gain to the mountain top with some friends of his helping with the carrying. Then he mounts the hang glider and jumps off.

His friends thought he’d fly down from there, land in the valley below, but he immediately went straight upward, carried by air currents. He was soon surprised to be at 15,000 feet … lol … above the clouds. It all ended well, except that he landed on the wrong side of the mountain and had a long hike to the nearest road. In the meantime everyone else thought he was dead. He disappeared into the clouds and was never seen after that. But he turned up at his home a little the worse for wear later in the evening.

Anyway he kept this up, doing risky stuff. For quite a few years. Then one time he was hang gliding over by Boulder Colorado and something went wrong, a support strap holding the wing broke, he was in a complete free fall from 1500 feet above the ground, and his only chance he decided was to say a prayer. It worked, but he just barely escaped. After that, no more hang gliding, and no more of that risky behavior.

I wish I was a shining example of the kind of driver you’d like your SIL to be. I drive above the speed limit, too often. Usually I do so on longer stretches of road with little traffic, but not always. One thing I can say I do well is keeping a ton of distance between me and the knucklehead in front of me. I hate being tailgated. I’ve gotten into fights with a few boneheads who were flirting with my fanny. Not recently, thank God.

If he doesn’t like being tailgated, ask him if it is it cool for him to do it?

If that SOB had not been speeding, my friend would have had a mom. Growing up, my best friend, Benny, was really close to and deeply loved his mom. They were real buds. Yet, he kind of bossed her around and took advantage of her some. She adored him, utterly, and she sort of let him treat her with disrespect at times. That never happened in my family.

Late one afternoon in the fall I was playing outside when my mother rang the cow bell to let us know dinner was ready. Dark clouds were sweeping in and a refreshing fall breeze shoved my face and then followed me as I skipped several treads on the outside wooden stairs that led to the kitchen. I heard my mother’s voice through a storm door and a solid thick wood door. I remember because she was upset and saying the strangest things I’d ever heard. Benny’s mom was killed in a car accident earlier that afternoon. I sat down for dinner as usual but everything had changed. I felt weird. “What are you talking about?” I thought. "Mrs. Jones can’t be dead. I just saw her."
Benny didn’t attend school for three weeks. When I finally did see him again, his eyes explained his sorrow. They were bright red, all bloodshot. He was pale. His face looked different. He was practically disfigured with bruised and swollen cheeks. He appeared to have died, too. He was never the same. They moved away about a year later. He would never again be the goofy, carefree, fun loving ten year boy I knew.

When he saw me, he said, no, “begged” or “pleaded” are better words. He pleaded with me never to hate or disrespect my mom. He lowered his head. Then, he stared into my eyes with all that grief and pain in his face- wet with tears, mucous running down his nose, and said, “I would do anything, anything, to have the chance to tell her one more time how much I love her. That’s what hurts so bad. It’s ripping my stomach out. I will never again tell her that, how much I really love her. I can’t believe it. I don’t have one more chance. That hurts more than anything else. I just wish, I just wanted to tell her one more time, before she left, that I love her.”

That SOB who killed her was speeding down route 46 in northern New Jersey. There were islands where drivers could access the highway, but it was always tricky. You had to be sure where each car was and how fast they were traveling and bolt across 2 lanes. But, one’s view of the road was dangerously limited. This moron was hidden by another car driving at a safe speed, so she didn’t see him. He smashed into her car speeding, causing her to be ejected and then run over by her own vehicle, destroying her skull.

Remind him how quickly we can leave this planet.


AGAIN . . . I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s mom

But you told that same story just yesterday . . . ?!

Have someone video him driving from the back seat vantage point so he can see his driving from a third party view point.
Then compare that video to all the ones on youtube ( usually russian dash cams. )

Lbclark: I feel sorry for you. Without 100% support from your Daughter you have little chance of success.