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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Resolve to drive better

Since poor driving is on nearly everyone’s pet peeve list, who are the perpetrators?  I suppose we have all fueled someone’s ire, sometime, during our driving histories.

A remedy for that is for every driver to improve. It’s generally conceded that there is room for improvement in everything we do and the advent of a new year is a good time for doing so.

Try enacting some of the following worthy driving resolutions to improve safety, alleviate road rage and even preserve life in 2020.

  • When there are two traffic lanes in the same direction of travel, stay out of the left one except when allowing a merge, passing a vehicle, nearing a left turn, or driving an emergency vehicle.  That’s the law, so let’s comply. 
  • Keep a proper following distance — you’ll avoid tailgating and rear-end collisions.  Following too closely behind another vehicle is intimidating to the followed driver and puts you at risk for an at-fault wreck.  This foible is avoidable by staying four seconds behind others — when a vehicle passes a stationary point, count the seconds it takes you to reach the same spot — if it’s less than 3-4 seconds, back off a bit.
  • Use freeway on-ramps to reach freeway speed upon entrance — not every ramp will allow this, but it’s an ideal to strive for.
  • Signal turning intentions to other drivers with consistent use of vehicle turn signals.  The Washington Driver Guide suggests using your signals at least 100 feet before your intended turn — and yes, hand signals are still legal in case you have a bulb out.
  • Fight off distraction.  I’ve written lots about this, but avoid rubbernecking at an emergency scene — it’s the number one cause of distraction-related accidents.  Cell phones, eating, drinking, smoking, and other popular while-driving activities cause their share of trouble as well.
  • Stop at the stop line or stop sign at an intersection.  If you make your stop in the proper spot, you can usually see the necessary surrounding traffic — if not, roll ahead slightly after making your initial stop at the line or sign.
  • Keep a special watch for motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.  Whether you like it or not, the law provides for sharing the road with them, and cars and trucks are very big bullies when it comes to confrontation.
  • Don’t trust the right-of-way.  Even at a green light, it pays to scan the intersection before gleefully sailing through it.  It is a known fact that red lights are sometimes “run” by drivers — having the right-of-way won’t keep you from danger.
  • Know the rules of the road.  This column covers many of them — if you are uncertain about one, look it up.  A computer makes this quite easy, but there are also state, city, and county law books in the library.
  • Know your vehicle, and maintain it.  The more you know about your car, and its state of condition, the better driver you’re likely to be.  You need not be an expert, and learning automobile basics is not a formidable task.
  • Learn from mistakes.  We all make driving errors, but it’s important that we learn from them and avoid their repetition.
  • Avoid anger.  If another driver has not taken these resolutions to heart, and does something stupid, try to laugh it off.  I always try to determine what the reason may have been for the behavior.  When someone cuts me off, I figure that they must simply have a small brain, for example.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.