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


Avoid common errors

There are endless elements of good driving — avoiding errors is predominant among them.  Committing common driving mistakes can negate any driver’s otherwise exemplary skills.  I believe a successful driver is only as good as their last error-free drive.  The following mistakes can hatch road rage, wrecks and even death.

Concentration is a high-priority while at the wheel — it only takes one transgression to spoil an exemplary day of driving.  According to reader reports and personal observation, certain foul-ups are typical.  And sadly, they are responsible for much vehicular mayhem.

So, please devote attention to the task and avoid the following slipups:

Stopping late

The proper stopping spot is at the wide, white line.  This designated stop line appears at most signs and lights.  It bothers me that huge numbers of drivers make their stops past this line, and it’s especially aggravating when I do it!

If no line is present, the proper place to stop is where your front bumper 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’ve “run” the sign or light once you have passed the stop line even if you stop shortly thereafter — camera enforcement and a ticket via mail can verify that.

Rolling stop

A police officer 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. Accomplishing complete stops will keep you from being ticketed and make your intersection crossings safer.

Varying speed

Maintaining a steady speed matching the flow of traffic is best.  Always be aware of your speed, keeping it constant and in accordance to posted limits — it makes your actions more predictable and allow vehicles around you to better intermingle.

Faulty turns

Turn into the closest available lane when leaving a driveway, parking lot or adjoining street.  Darting into the far lane immediately after turning is common but unsafe.  If you must move to a different lane after turning, signal and do so after first occupying the proper lane for a reasonable distance.

No signal

There are drivers who signal, those who do not signal and those who become agitated by those who do not signal.  Legally signal your intentions to turn at least 100 feet before the turn.  When making turns, the only thing worse than not using you signal is activating it after initiating your turn. 

Intersection impediment

It is illegal to block an intersection with your vehicle.  It’s also hazardous and affects others.  Look ahead to avoid being a blocker to cross traffic.  If there is not sufficient room on the other side of the intersection, stop short of the intersection until traffic ahead clears.


Leaving a proper distance ahead accomplishes many things:  it’s lawful, allows time to react to the car ahead and gives you a better view down the road.

Maintain a two to three second interval behind other vehicles at lower speeds, and use three to four seconds at highway speeds.  Whether using the time interval to create a following distance or the old-school method of one car length per each ten miles per hour, maintain a space that is reasonable and prudent.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at