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


What’s on drivers’ minds?

A couple of local drivers have sent me their peeves and thoughts.

G.B. groused, “I have three pet peeves at the top of my list.  First off are drivers who refuse to turn on their headlights until there is a 99% loss of daylight.  Second is parking lots.  A law should be changed so those in the aisle yield right-of-way to those backing out.  When a car is parked between two tall vehicles such as a van or high pickup aisle traffic cannot be seen.  I personally yield to backing traffic on the chance the driver does not see me or is not paying attention.  Third to bring up an old subject, I still hear complaints about the traffic cams.  If drivers were adult enough to obey the traffic lights instead of trying to beat them there would be no need for traffic cams.  Also when I defend the traffic cams as a necessity I hear that they increase rear-end accidents.  Again the blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of the following vehicle.  I have had drivers try to push me through an intersection to beat the light.  Back to basics:  leave enough space between you and the car ahead to stop safely.”

I agree that many drivers wait unduly long to turn on headlights; maybe they are overly concerned about associated cost or component wear.  Since, technically, fuel mileage is reduced infinitesimally from the slight alternator load caused by headlights, and alternator/lamp life may be shortened by lighting up, maybe those drivers are just super-cheap!  For sure, they are unnecessarily unsafe.

G.B.’s right-of-way suggestion for parking lots has merit.  It is usually much easier for drivers within the aisles to see who to yield to rather than placing the burden on drivers hidden among parked cars.  It’s good that he takes it upon himself, being the one with better visibility, to yield to those backing out.  Many drivers simply go too fast in parking lots, given the density and irregular movement of vehicles and pedestrians there.

I’ve always felt that the complaints about red light cameras were unwarranted.  If you don’t want a ticket, simply avoid travelling through an intersection upon red indication. As with all other rules of the road, if you don’t want to be cited for breaking them, don’t break them.  For sure, blaming a rear-end collision on a red light camera simply won’t hold up in court; maintaining a proper following distance is the best crash avoidance tactic in such “tight” situations.

Reader N.E. thinks too many drivers operate at speeds above the limit, and wishes there were more “black and white” marked police cruisers on the roadways.

He opined, “I drive Highway 2 and Interstate 90 three days a week and about 3 trips a day between Airway Heights and Coeur d’Alene.  I wish WSP would stop its stealth campaign against motorists and return to black and white patrol cars.  The reason I say this is the freeway has become a circus, in the 60 mph zones 65 mph and higher are normal now, in 70 zones it’s getting really scary.  I would definitely like to see more black and white patrols everywhere, that way we all know that they’re  there, ‘To Serve and Protect’ not to just write tickets.”

I agree that the sight of a marked police cruiser puts most drivers on their best behavior.  I’ve noticed during WSP Trooper rides that it really takes an oblivious driver to mess up in the presence of a marked car, though amazingly, many still do.  On the other hand, while riding in an unmarked cruiser, I see offending drivers continuously.

If there were more marked vehicles patrolling the roadways, their mere presence would sharpen up the collective vehicle fleet driving for certain.  I suspect that state revenues from ticketing would suffer, however, which is likely why the “stealth” program was instituted in the first place.

I suppose it’s a bit of a quandary — the enforcement entities are definitely concerned with safety, and I know they are interested in improving civilian driving through education and enforcement, but they must generate revenue to continue their existence!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at