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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Good attitude for good driving

Good drivers properly prepare their vehicles for driving.  Besides keeping engines, transmissions, suspensions, brakes, tires and lighting maintained, they hone adjustments of seats, mirrors and other accessories prior to takeoff.  These actions all enhance driver comfort, confidence and safety.

But better drivers do one more thing when they take the driver’s seat:  adopt a proper driving attitude.  And that is easier said than done.  There is something about the private environment within a vehicle that can affect driver attitudes adversely.

Many drivers adopt an “all about me” attitude when behind the wheel of an automobile.  I have written of that phenomenon before, where normally docile individuals turn into bullies when shrouded in supposed anonymity while sitting inside of their car or truck.  Such drivers regularly engage in aggressive, illegal and downright rude behaviors.

So what state of mind best represents a proper driving attitude?  It will vary slightly with each driver, but a demeanor balanced somewhere between bold and meek makes the most sense.  Aggressive dispositions lead to trouble, but timidity hampers efficient traffic flow; when the two intermix, it can lead to rage.  Overly aggressive drivers tend to be unforgiving.  When such a person encounters a hesitant driver creeping up a freeway ramp, for example, road rage is imminent.

 I believe that “confident” is the best label for an “in the middle” driving attitude.  A confident driver is secure with factors like knowledge of road rules, their vehicle’s dimensions and handling limits (accelerating, turning and stopping), and their own perceptual skills.  Additionally, a confident driver must forgive and accommodate drivers whose temperaments reside at extreme ends of the spectrum (bold to subdued).

For everyone’s well-being, try to clear your mind of extraneous problems (work, home, et cetera) the moment you enter your vehicle.  Dwelling on life’s difficulties will absolutely detract from your ability see the big picture and react to emergencies on the roadway.   If possible, empty your brain of troubling thoughts just as you would to aid going to sleep at night.  An agitated state of mind will make you less tolerant of the inevitable mistakes by other drivers, and possibly increase one’s aggressive tendencies.

I regularly say, and it bears repeating, that you can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your reaction to their actions.  There will always be bad drivers, and even good drivers who make errors; please fine tune your driving attitude in order to drive properly and to harmonize with those who don’t.

Speaking of good driving behaviors, the Washington State Patrol is monitoring them.  They just completed a 3-day emphasis patrol attempting to bring trooper and citizen awareness to the “move over law.”  That’s where you move over when a vehicle is parked on the shoulder with its emergency lights activated.

Revised Code of Washington 46.61.212 requires that vehicles approaching an emergency or work zone should proceed with due caution, slow down, and if safe move over or change lanes.

The fine for non-compliance is $214 dollars, and cannot be adjudicated or reduced.  Since 2016, 104 patrol cars were hit on the shoulder of the roadway, injuring 27 troopers.  As a result, these officers have a stake in law, and are not likely lenient in its enforcement.  They wish to remind drivers to slow down and move over when they see emergency lights because it is safe and it is the law.

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