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


Driving details matter

There are numerous ways to measure driving proficiency.  One success “bar” is avoiding wrecks — another notable achievement is a citation-free record.  Meeting these benchmarks, however, does not mean that you drive perfectly.

Some drivers go accident-free mainly due to others’ defensive actions.  Yes, even error-prone drivers can be lucky enough to have their mistakes mitigated through accommodation by others.  Additionally, many driver shortcomings are not citable or escape the eyes of law enforcement.

Bad driving habits develop easily and it takes awareness to eliminate them.  On the other hand, certain good driving habits are often forgotten.  Some of these bad and good habits are addressed in road rules, but many precision driving practices are not covered in laws or books.  Getting better at driving’s common-sense details improves roadway harmony.

The results of this good and bad driving behavior impose consequences upon others around you.  How about drivers who keep their wheels on the center line or near the shoulder causing sand or rainwater to cover your windshield?  Such menacing debris can break a windshield and absolutely compromises vision.  Please avoid constant running in the “debris strip”— it’s a harmful habit that is not illegal, but an oblivious driving practice that affects others adversely.

A behavior I deem helpful, yet not required, is one that I practice as I approach a red light on a road with two lanes in the same direction of travel.  If I am to be the first one at the stop line, I move to the left lane to accommodate a potential right turner in the right lane — after I cross the intersection upon a green indication, I return to the right-hand lane.  I always feel good when cars show up in the lane I vacated and are able to take their “free” right turns within the duration of the red light.

I know that another non-requisite maneuver I make is appreciated by truckers — I do it when I am driving in front of a large truck on a two lane road.  As we approach an uphill grade, I speed up about 5 mph to allow the truck some extra speed and momentum for the impending incline.  I know they appreciate it, as they always stick right to me during the speedup, then fall back as the hill scrubs off their speed.

As I’ve often written, proper freeway merging seems impossible for many drivers.  Stopping at the top of the ramp, entering 60 mph flowing traffic at 40 mph, or forcing one’s way in where there is no hole are all-too-common bad-habit behaviors.

I’ve had drivers who choose to cross the “triangle” at the top of the freeway entrance ramp, and move to my left to beat me to the freeway lane.  The obvious problem with this is that now the car-in-a-hurry occupies the space I need to be in.  The result is a squeeze-play, where I must curtail my properly-achieved merging speed to avoid the retaining wall to my right and merge behind the perpetrator.

Crossing this spot, commonly called the “gore area,” is illegal and ill-advised.  I’m not certain of the origin of that designation, but it reflects the mayhem that can occur when crossing it.

Besides adhering to rules of the road, please, practice common sense driving procedures that make vehicle operation safer for all of us.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at