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


Remember the basics

I’d like to blame recent poor driving I’ve seen on spring fever, but I’m afraid it’s due to drivers’ inattention and indifference.  On the roadways last night, I observed about one driving error per mile.

No free right turn taken on red, riding continuously in the left lane, weaving into oncoming lane, tailgating, non-use of signals, turning into wrong lane — and that was just my driving!  Only kidding — these were all examples of imprecision driving perpetrated by other drivers who could easily do better if they would simply think.

The main purpose of this column is to get drivers to think about what they are doing before and after they get in the drivers’ seats of their vehicles.  The “before” part means learning about your car, and checking it before you get underway — check the tires for lack of inflation, take a quick peek for fluid leaks, and check the lights (all of them) at night.  A burned out license plate light will get police attention as fast as a broken headlight.  Many fleet owners require a pre-drive check by their operators — as with aircrafts, it’s nice to catch a critical flaw before takeoff.

Another important driving preparation is to know the rules of the road.  Your city and state listings are available on the Internet, at the library, and in the drivers’ guides printed by every state.  If you are uncertain about a road rule, seek and find the answer.

So, remember the basics:  know the road rules, know your vehicle, pay attention, and improve your operational skills.  I know for certain there’s room for improvement in paying attention.  For example, that vehicle I saw weave over the center- line into oncoming traffic was, as you might guess, on the cell phone.  Studies now show that it’s impossible to talk on the phone and give full attention to driving at the same time.  No one is exempt, hands-free or not, from the distraction that comes with cell phone use while driving.  Distraction is a factor in more than one out of four crashes, and cell phone use is now the number one driver distraction.

I also know first-hand that there is room for driver improvement in the area of vehicle knowledge, thanks to the operator of an SUV I encountered.  His rig pulled out behind me with the high beams on and when he eventually switched to low beams, it triggered his perpetually switched-on, mis-aimed fog lights.  The brilliance of the back of my neck must have told the driver that something was amiss, so he switched back to high beams, then back to low-plus-fog-lasers then back to high, then finally settled on low with the flamethrowers.  At least now the high beam indicator on their dash was out, but what they needed to do was flip off that flippin’ fog light switch!

And it’s evident that not everyone knows how to behave at those uncontrolled intersections yet.  I’m still enduring vehicles approaching from my right — after I’m already stopped and yielding right-of-way — whose drivers then stop their vehicles and hand gesture for me to go.  I appreciate courtesy, but not misplaced courtesy.  Unmarked intersections are not four-way stops!

If driving became super safe and no one got hurt doing it, we could tolerate a sloppy, care-free attitude.  But it hasn’t and they are, so we can’t.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at