The more one is exposed to driving, the more one has to accommodate drivers who are oblivious and/or inept. At times, I wonder if I’m overly critical, but then recall the inherent dangers of that sloppy driving and continue my criticism. And when a former WSP Trooper joins my cause, I feel vindicated.
Former well-exposed-to-driving Washington State Patrol Trooper C.P wrote, “I’m retired from the WSP [and] I wanted to compliment you on your column regarding crossing of double yellow lines [when it’s allowed]. With that said I want to add three of my pet peeves regarding poor/lazy/incompetent drivers. One topic you have previously covered in your column is regarding turning left on a red light from a two way street onto a one way street. Five days a week I travel Sherman to Second Avenue and I would say 98% of the time I will sit behind a car waiting to turn west onto Second Avenue and the driver never takes the legal turn when the “coast is clear,” they wait for the green light.
C.P.’s first peeve is one of mine also, and certainly suggests that many drivers are clueless about road rules. For nearly 20 years, I made a daily turn onto Browne from Riverside in downtown Spokane. Only once did a driver in front of me take that turn upon a red indication on his own initiative. Also only once, I offered a horn toot to one of the red light sitters to induce a turn and got back a lot of swearing instead. After that, like C.P., I resolved that only one driver out of hundreds is aware of the law allowing a “free” left turn from a two-way to a one-way street during a red light.
He continued, “Second is the driver who ‘cuts’ the corner as you wait at the stop sign/traffic light and almost takes off the front end of your car. For some reason the concept of a 90 degree turn seems to escape people. If you happen to be approaching the intersection and they are turning, many times they are cutting the corner to the point they take a portion of your lane.”
Excessive corner cutting is a valid gripe too. When I’ve occasionally stopped slightly over the line at a red light, a left-turning driver coming from my right will generally careen across the nose of my car while exhibiting a dirty look as if I left almost no possible way for them to make their turn. Like C.P. suggests, how about making a turn resembling 90 degrees?
And finally, C.P. noted, “Again using my daily route as an example, I travel Sherman to Southeast Blvd and it is very common to see cars over the centerline in curves (as they cut the corner) and even on a straight stretch of road. This is a terrible habit and in a 30 mph zone they can probably get by without a collision but it is my experience and belief this is symptom of a driving habit which the driver will also exhibit on a 60 mph two lane highway. In my career I have seen a number of head-on collisions on two lane highways without a clear reason for the offending car to be over the centerline, other than being a poor driver and/or a distracted driver.”
C.L.’s last peeve is simply indicative of distracted, careless vehicle operation, which is unfortunately rampant and dangerous!
Citing recurring driver shortcomings is more than an exercise in complaining, although many readers have told me it feels good to vent. But mostly, for me, it’s meant to bring these common driver errors forward for attention and discussion. It’s also hoping that such discussions will prompt caring drivers to stay at the top of their game and coerce careless ones to curtail their bad habits.
If you have pet peeves experienced while driving, please let me know. I’ll report them here with the hope that good drivers will see they are not alone in their disgust and that error-prone drivers will become aware of the mistakes they are continually making!
Readers may contact Bill Love via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.