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


Looking for errors

The majority of vehicles I encounter are piloted by good drivers.  Mostly, other drivers will see me and know when I have the right of way for example.  Usually, drivers will stop at stop signs and not put their vehicles in places I already occupy.

But due to distraction, illness, indifference or other influences, there are still many drivers who stray from accepted driving norms.  We cannot assume that all drivers will behave as they should.  We must drive for everyone else and expect that each driver has a potential to commit driving errors that may affect us.

Reader P.S. described an extreme example of distracted driving, writing, “At the base of the hill near Euclid I looked out the passenger right window to see a young woman steering her car towards us as we were in the center lane in crowded lanes of traffic.  She was smoking, texting on her phone, and had another phone locked to her right ear with her shoulder.”

And P.S. continued by expressing, “My driver husband pulled back to let her have room, then when she started pulling toward her immediate right lane, we passed her.  We are elderly and we take pride in our 2013 car.  Her car had already been in an accident.  Both left side wheels wobbled considerably.  No doubt the young lady trying to cope with an older repaired car; but I have little sympathy for her multitasking unsafe activities while driving, especially on Division.  I just wish there was a way to educate that young lady to think of other people before she has the next accident which might injure someone.”

That’s why it’s important to always pay attention when driving and expect the unexpected.  If two drivers behaving like the young woman P.S. described were to meet, trouble could ensue.  If you are ALWAYS an alert driver, it’s not possible to be one of two daydreaming drivers in a given circumstance, and you can usually accommodate the inattentive one.

Fortunately, education and enforcement campaigns aimed at the general public are attempting to address the dangers of distracted driving.  Unfortunately, some drivers are not noting, or at least not heeding, the message — good reason to practice full-time vigilance at the wheel.

How are drivers screwing up?  Let me count the ways.  Yesterday, in a 15 minute period, I decided to note and identify encountered driving errors.  Again, while the majority of drivers were performing admirably, some were making mistakes.

Differential of speed is always a nuisance and often an accident cause.  Case in point: While trying to maintain 30-33 mph on 29th Avenue, I had a lengthy delay behind a vehicle going 20-22 mph, leaving me stuck there waiting for a string of traffic going 40+ to clear the left lane.       

That’s too slow in the right lane and too fast in the left one — someone wishing to travel near the 30 mph limit could not do so in either lane.  When the left lane cleared, two delayed vehicles behind me instantly changed lanes, further trapping me behind the creeper.  Being first in line to pass was not an advantage since my left signal was ignored.

Next, I saw a violation of the subject discussed here a couple weeks ago:  improper turns.  This errant driver made his turn from the left turn lane on 29th Avenue directly into the right-hand lane on Ray Street.  That’s a citable driving error.

Then, speaking of citable errors, I noticed the camera flash as a driver drove through the Third & Freya camera-enforced intersection after the light had changed to red.  Luckily, none of the vigilant drivers waiting in cross-traffic for the green light made dragstrip takeoffs at that time.  Scofflaw, watch your mail for a ticket!

Finally, only my swerve and horn honk helped me avoid a sideswipe on Sprague Avenue moments later when an oblivious driver tried to change lanes directly into me.

Again, dozens of people around me that day drove well, but the slowpokes, lawbreakers and distracted drivers made roads less safe for everyone.  Don’t let your guard down when you see good driving — poor driving is always in the mix!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at