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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


I could not have said it better

As I write of driving topics, express opinions, report poor driving witnessed and provide tips, it’s reassuring to know that readers are on my side.

One such validation came from reader B.B in response to my column, “The School of Poor Driving.”  He’s a locomotive engineer, who wrote, “I always enjoy your columns, but especially the one from 12/14/2012.  I often drive from the Spokane Valley to Cheney at irregular times and I have seen all of the stupid driving situations you have mentioned, along with a few more.”

But moreover, B.B. provided his list of “common sense rules of the road,” all which I’ve touted at various times some form.  Here are the driving tenets he lives by — I could not have said it better:

  • Keep your focus on the road and your driving.  Don’t let your mind wander off onto unrelated areas.
  • Pay attention to what is going on more than just 50 feet in front of you.  Watch the lights and try to hit them when they are green.  Don’t rush up to a red light and then have to stop if you can slow down just a bit and then roll through the intersection without stopping after the light turns green.
  • Try to allow some extra time for your trip so you don’t feel “rushed” to arrive at your destination.
  • Give other drivers a break.  Leave plenty of space in front of yourself.  If another driver moves into that space, that’s OK.
  • When other drivers do stupid things try to avoid getting all worked up and mad!
  • If you have to stop at a red light in heavy traffic and some poor soul is trying to enter the street, give him enough space to do so.  He will be grateful and it won't delay you a whit.
  • Always signal lane changes and double check to insure that nobody is in your blind spot.
  • I always try to drive right on the posted speed limit; not over and not under.
  • When you can, let gravity and momentum work for you.  Avoid unnecessary brake applications.  Your brakes will last longer and your gas mileage is better.

It’s also satisfying that my complaint about perpetual fog light illumination hits home with others.  One offended driver, S.N., groused, “Enjoyed your comments on fog lights.  Like you said, probably just oblivious drivers.  But I also think some people use them as a status symbol, ‘I have them and you don’t.’  I know it’s rude, but we get so bombarded by fog lights at all times of the year, often not properly aimed, that I’ve given up flashing my high beams, I just turn them on full blast until our vehicles pass, then put them back to regular.  I don’t have fog lights, but my car has a sensor that turns the headlights on as darkness approaches. Maybe the manufacturers could do something similar with fog lights.”

Offenders take note:  Your errant actions are affecting others adversely.  Certain drivers may be near the end of their emotional rope — there’s no reason to push them toward rage or revenge.

And L.S. provided an icy-driving tip I’ve suggested in the past but he must have missed.  Regarding a recent column topic of icy roads, he replied, “Several years ago I had an older car and with automatic transmission that even when I was stopped on ice with my foot on the brake the drive wheels kept moving.  I thought about this and experimented a little.  Now, when trying to stop on ice when my vehicle speed slows to the idle speed I move my shift lever to neutral.  When you think about it this is no different than depressing the clutch when driving a stick shift.”

For years, I have recommended popping automatic transmissions in neutral for even, four-wheel braking on ice-slickened roads.  As L.S says, it is equivalent to depressing the clutch to accomplish the same result.  One certainly doesn’t need the engine working to rotate the wheels while the brakes are attempting to stop them.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at