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


Down the road again

When I wrote of U.S 195 traffic “parades” last month, resulting feedback spawned a second column — now here goes a third.

I regularly try to guess what is causing the driver mistakes I see, and possible medical conditions are among those guesses.

Reader J.D. corroborated that logic when he wrote, “Your column caught my attention because I was once one of those drivers leading a parade, seemingly at my own sweet pace.  I would notice people honking and gesturing while passing me from time to time without understanding the reason.  On one occasion, just south of Colville, I was pulled over by a trooper for holding up three or four cars, warned, and urged to be more alert.  This situation lasted a few months, until I finally went to see my doctor, and was diagnosed with diabetes-two.  After taking the prescribed medicine for less than twenty-four hours, I began to feel like a new person, more alert and energetic. Why was I driving slower and slower, suddenly realizing that I was doing so and speeding up for awhile, and then gradually slowing down again?  I finally figured out that it was the restoring spring on the gas pedal of my Wrangler pushing against my right foot and resulting in the gradual decrease in acceleration.  I hope you will see the sense of my explanation and urge other pokey drivers to have a chat with their doctors.  The problem doesn’t have to be diabetes, of course, but it could be something as easily remedied.”

Besides that unique input, numerous other responses expressed agreement that slow drivers on 195 going inconsistent speeds who won’t pull over are hazardous, that drivers second in line should pass, and that such situations can lead to road rage.

But one email reminded me that certain readers read between the lines, and there’s no explanation for the content they may insert.

Reader M.N. somehow perceived the column as a defense of speeders.  Even though reader H.I. and I, who drive U.S. 195 regularly, only groused about slow drivers holding up long strings of traffic, he made many other assumptions, writing, “When I saw the title of last Sunday’s [Saturday 4-20] column I made a mental bet that one of the first two complaints would be your usual right-wing diatribe about drivers who have the temerity to drive at the speed limit.  It was of course, the first complaint. While I do not approve of people driving 35 on the freeway, the vast majority of drivers who are criticized for ‘holding up traffic’ are driving at or near the speed limit but are interfering with the ignorantsia’s God-given right to endanger themselves and others by speeding.”

Huh?  There was nothing in that column denigrating drivers who drive the speed limit; that would be self-denigration, since I drive according to the posted limits.  There was also nothing there justifying anyone’s right to speed; I even stated that I am willing to settle for a speed under the limit, if that speed is a steady one.

Since M.N. likes speculation, I’ll speculate.  I suspect he is a “driver” who doesn’t pay due attention to the driving task, and unaware of his exact speed at all times, experiences the honks and gestures described by J.D. above.

Oblivious of his pulsating, often-too-slow speed, M.N. then perceives other drivers as “speeders” who are breaking the law even though they are trying to observe proper speed.  It’s telling that he baselessly states, “…the vast majority of drivers who are criticized for ‘holding up traffic’ are driving at or near the speed limit.”  I think he’s just rationalizing whatever speed he is going while he impedes someone attempting to operate at a steady, legal pace.  Of course, that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

When encountering drivers who are delaying traffic with their slow, varying speed or hogging the left lane without proper qualifying reasons, please remember not to turn anger toward them like M.N. does to his imagined speeders.  Make a game of it by trying to guess what is causing their poor driving.  Maybe they have a medical condition — or they might be worked up by something they thought they read!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at