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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The school of poor driving

Often, surrounding drivers show me how not to drive.  During a trip to the airport last week, those in my periphery supplied many examples of actions that anger and endanger others on the roadway, creating a “school” of poor driving. 

I encountered the first of those schooling drivers as I pulled onto a 30 mph arterial.  In daylight, on dry roads with light traffic, I think that operating one’s vehicle at the posted limit is little to ask.  And traffic engineers have deemed it safe! 

The vehicle I pulled out behind that morning was only going 24-25 mph — not just for a moment while looking for a street sign or slowing for potential danger — but going that speed for several miles with no apparent reason. 

Though I showed no outward signs of anger, the potential for aggravation was evidenced by the too-short following distance of the vehicle behind me.  In the second incidence of driver error I encountered that morning, that driver manifested his disapproval of the holdup by riding only a few feet off of my rear bumper. 

Our three-car train broke apart when the road turned to four lanes, but my newfound freedom ended soon.  That’s when the pickup in front of me stopped on Cedar Street before making a left onto Fourth Avenue.  Evidently, the driver wanted to accommodate cross-traffic coming from a stop sign to our right—those cars, however, were not about to move, since there were three other parallel lanes of traffic to our right, inhibiting cross-traffic.  My horn brought offender number three back to his senses. 

 But now, sitting at a red light, offender number three became offender number four.  Stuck behind this tentative driver, I had little hope of him turning left from our one-way onto another one-way during the red light.  And he didn’t.  Instead of taking advantage of the clearance in traffic to make the legal turn, he waited until the light became green.  But now, opposing traffic disallowed the turn.  As is typical, the pickup driver made his turn once traffic cleared, but the light turned back to red for me. 

I was soon able to make my left while the red light still shone, but it put me behind another offender as I made my right turn onto the freeway entrance ramp.  This driver never topped 35 mph as we made our way to the top of the chute — that happens to me so frequently, it must be a conspiracy.  Drivers, PLEASE try to muster some speed as you attempt a seamless blend into the traffic upon the freeway. 

I remained behind the timid merger in the right-hand freeway lane for a bit, then decided that he, now only going 52 mph, was either about to take the Pullman exit or was content to remain in the right-hand lane.  But I was foiled again. 

As I moved left and around the unpredictable driver, he gave a look of disapproval, and then slipped out behind me when I passed as though attracted to the rear of my car by magnetism.  At least he didn’t tailgate long, because within an instant, he made another erratic lane change and was passing me on the left going at least 10 mph over the limit. 

That sort of aggressive driving causes accidents.  The good news for me was that this unpredictable driver quickly sped away and out of view; the bad news was that he would likely go on to display more irrational driving and create angst for others. 

Nearing the airport, speed limits rapidly diminish from 55 mph clear down to 20 mph.  At the first reduction, an SUV rapidly approached from my rear as I began to decelerate.  After following unnecessarily close before changing lanes and passing, the approaching SUV blew by me and entered the 20 mph zone way too fast. 

Having endured all of that unenforced marginal driving, some justice would be welcome.  And it arrived!  As I finally made my way to the terminal going the required 20 mph, I received vindication for doing so.  The Airport Police had the SUV pulled over for some impromptu driver education. 

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.