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


Small stuff sometimes matters


The small stuff can be problematic while driving.  Drivers’ “small” blunders are often citable offenses and they are usually offensive to others.  These seemingly minor mistakes are not only the sources of citations, but also catalysts for road rage and wrecks.

I regularly seek opinions of everyday drivers — right here, and in social settings.  Repeatedly, I hear shared pet peeves — the small irritants faced by these drivers as they intermingle.

Such was the case when discussing driving topics with a group of friends.  H.F. queried, “How about those who never turn off their fog lights?  His peeve echoed similar past complaints from others, including myself.

Please note:  Those bright auxiliary lights are, like the moniker implies, for fog.  And even then, they are meant to be turned off for oncoming traffic.  Types vary, but most fog and supplemental driving lights can temporarily blind drivers facing you.  They are not necessarily aimed down and to the right like low beam headlights.  These extra lights work great for added visibility ahead and to the side, but like H.F., I detest seeing them perpetually illuminated.  Knowing how to operate the accessory controls on your vehicle is an element of good driving.

After H.F. told me when he didn’t want light, he pointed out when he would like to see more of it — such as when drivers are going to turn.  He asked, “How about those who can’t even use their turn signals?”  It’s inconsiderate — indifferent or oblivious too — or maybe just lazy.

H.F.  had voiced another nuisance many motorists share.  It’s hard for me and countless others to believe that using signals is too much to ask.  I doubt that every offender has inoperative signals, and even if your bulbs are burned out, arm signals are an option. 

The Revised Code of Washington is quite specific on the matter of signal use, and is typical of other states.  Section 46.61.305 reads, “(1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.  (2) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.  (3) No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.”

Item three of that Code forbids another common error I see:  Drivers who first slow, then signal.  As the Code dictates, that order should be reversed.  Improper and non-use of turn signals are examples of “minor” transgressions that can cause road rage, tickets, and accidents. 

Tailgaters instigate ire too.  Maintaining that near-no following distance on winding two-lane roads is bad enough, but it also occurs on four-lane highways and two-lane roads when there is room to pass.  I typically alleviate the irritation by moving to the shoulder to let speeders pass. 

It seems that many drivers are adept at catching, but poor at passing.  Close followers of this kind regularly incite rage and cause accidents.  Please maintain a proper following distance or blow by the slower car.

Small stuff can matter.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at