Why Do People Speed Up As You Pass Them?
You know how it works. You’re driving along in the left lane at some reasonable speed – OK, it’s usually above the posted limit – and you get stuck behind someone driving more slowly than you are (usually in a Subaru, but frequently in a Volvo). You pray they realize that you’re about to scrape the chrome off their bumper with yours or are blinded by your headlights causing them to pull over. Usually, this takes forever, but eventually, most drivers get the message and move to a slower lane. Then, as you’re passing them, they speed up. WTF?
Sometimes they increase their speed just to match your speed, sometimes they actually end up going faster than you. But in all cases, they are going way faster than they were when you got stuck behind them. Once you get sick of this little cat and mouse game, you speed up even more to get the whack-job further behind you. It’s then you realize that they are imploding into a spec in your rear view mirror – once you were by them, they returned to their initial plodding velocity.
I can’t be sure, but I suspect I might do this unconsciously as well. Or, at least, some slightly less insane version of it. What in human psychology causes this to happen?