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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Details matter

There are many measures of driving success.  Crash avoidance is one such benchmark and another notable achievement is a ticket-free driving record.  But simply meeting these standards does not mean that you are a good driver.

Accident-free drivers may have straight fenders only because of others’ defensive actions.  Even error-prone drivers can be lucky enough to have their mistakes mitigated through the vigilance of others.  Also, some driver shortcomings are not citable or otherwise escape the eyes of officers.

Bad driving habits persist and it takes awareness and practice to reduce them. On the other end of the spectrum, good driving habits are often neglected.  Some of these bad and good habits are addressed in official rules of the road, but other details of precision driving are not covered in state laws and driver handbooks.  Getting better at common-sense driving details enhances harmony on the roadways.

For example, even now, a sandy winter-residue remains at the edge of many roadways.  Drivers who run their left or right pair of tires in this sand and gravel strip impose consequences upon others around them. It’s not illegal, but certainly annoying — and avoidable.  This oblivious habit sends the sand, gravel or other residue at following vehicle.  Windshield nicks regularly occur from this inconsiderate driver habit.

A behavior that  is helpful, but 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 lane.

Another non-requisite maneuver I make is appreciated by truckers — I do it when I find myself 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.  They always take advantage of this gesture by sticking to my rear end during the speedup, then falling back as the hill scrubs off their speed.

As I’ve reported in the past, proper freeway merging is difficult for many drivers and impossible for some.  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 behaviors.

During a driving conversation, L.D. reminded me of another difficulty many drivers have with effective freeway merging—impatience.  He complained of eager drivers behind him who wish to cross the triangle at the top of the ramp, and beat him to the freeway lane.  The obvious problem with this is that now the car-in-a-hurry occupies the space L.D. needs to be in.  The result is a squeeze-play, where L.D. needs to curtail his now-achieved merging speed to avoid the retaining wall to his 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 gore could certainly be part of the outcome of an accident resulting from this poor driving habit.

Pay due attention to established rules, and practice common sense driving procedures.  The details of driving truly matter.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at