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


Avoid common driving errors

Error avoidance is essential to good driving.  Any mistake can override and negate otherwise-excellent driving skills.  A successful driver is only as good as his or her last error-free drive.

Concentration is paramount while at the wheel of an automobile — it only takes one transgression to spoil what could be an exemplary day of driving.  According to email received, conversations with other drivers and personal observation, certain blunders are quite typical.  Unfortunately, these common lapses also lead to accidents and even road rage.

So when driving, devote due diligence to the task and strive to avoid the following slipups.

Stopping beyond the line

Wherever you drive, the proper stopping spot is at the wide, white line.  This designated stop line appears at most stop signs and traffic lights.  It bothers me that huge numbers of drivers make their stops past this line, and it’s especially aggravating when I do it myself!  It irritates and endangers pedestrians, along with drivers coming from your right making left turns.

When no line is present, the proper place to stop is where your front bumper is aligned with the stop sign or just shy of the marked crosswalk.  At times, stopping in the right place might not allow you to see cross traffic; in that case, first stop at the correct spot, then pull forward enough to check for traffic.  Legally, you have “run” the sign or red light once you have passed the stop line, even if you stop shortly thereafter.

Incomplete stop

Police officers have told me that hardly anyone makes complete stops at stop signs.  It’s more common to nearly stop, but continue to roll as traffic is checked and accelerator is reapplied.

Complete stops take place when the vehicle becomes motionless.  Taking an extra second to accomplish this will keep you from being ticketed and make your intersection crossing safer.

Fluctuating speed    

Maintaining a steady speed matching the flow of traffic is best.  Always be aware of your speed, keeping it constant and in relation to posted limits.  Doing so will make your actions more predictable and allow vehicles around you to better intermingle.  Use cruise control when and where possible.

Improper turns

Turn into the closest available lane when turning from a driveway, parking lot or adjoining street.  Angling into the wrong lane immediately after turning is common, but unsafe and irritating.  If you must move to a different lane after turning, signal and do so after first occupying the proper (closest) lane for a reasonable period.

Failing to signal

Drivers are of three types:  those who signal, those who do not signal, and those who become agitated by those who do not signal.

It’s required to signal your intention at least 100 feet before the turn.  And when it comes to making turns, the only thing worse than not using you signal is activating it after initiating your turn.  This should be easy to get right.

Following too closely

Leaving a proper distance ahead accomplishes at least three things:  keeps you legal; gives you time to react to actions of the car ahead; eliminates ire from the driver you are following.

Maintain a two to three second interval behind other vehicles at lower speeds, and use three to four seconds at highway speeds.  It’s up to the trailing vehicle to maintain a space that is reasonable and prudent.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at