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


Errors as learning tools

You should not feel boredom while driving — if you do, you’re lacking effort.  Proper, safe operation a motor vehicle requires your full attention — it’s a multi-tasking effort.

Reacting to traffic and road conditions ahead, behind and around us is a full-time job all on its own.  When maintaining lane position, monitoring mirrors, holding proper speed, creating space, braking smoothly, operating controls and avoiding distraction, “boring” is an inapt description.

But some people still perceive it that way.  For those drivers, I recommend noting the driving task-list above.  Also, try spotting errors by other drivers.  Such a practice will remind you to avoid those same mistakes.  Routine identification of other’s foul-ups will relieve boredom, heighten your general driving awareness and help you avoid errors.

I’m pretty good at this “game”, but riding with law officers has indicated room for improvement.  Whether it was a slight weave over the fog line (painted line at edge of road), faulty equipment, or improper lane change, the pros routinely spotted infractions before I did.

For example, on one ride-along, a vehicle ahead of us on the freeway had a tinted rear license plate cover.  While I knew that those are forbidden, the trooper’s “eagle-eye” spotted it before I did, revealing that my vigilance needed improvement.

I think that being ever-watchful for driver screw-ups will make you a better driver.  While driving, pretend that you are a police officer looking for violations — it will enhance your knowledge of road rules and improve your own skills.

There are plenty of common errors occurring out there, so sighting them should definitely keep one busy enough to avoid boredom.  If you make a habit of noting and identifying citable infractions, you will become surprisingly adept at it.

Speeding drivers are easily identified if you are aware of your own speed — a basic skill often absent.  If you maintain a constant speed at or near the speed limit, anyone who passes you is speeding.  It takes some practice and effort (or freeway use of cruise control) to maintain a proper and steady speed.

Failure to use signals is regular faux pas, and watching for that will undoubtedly help you remember to use yours.

Noticing drivers who weave out of their lane will not only raise your awareness of staying between the lines, but may alert you to the presence of a drunk or otherwise impaired driver.

If a vehicle stays in a blind spot by your left rear wheel during a freeway pass for an extended period, it should serve as an example of that act’s irritation and danger and compel you to expedite your passes.

When you observe tailgating drivers, it will not only be visible evidence of its futility, but hopefully serve as a clue to avoid that violation yourself.

Drivers who keep their vehicles in the left lane without benefit of a legal reason (about to turn left, overtaking a vehicle, or moving left to allow a merge) will be a signal for you to avoid that infraction by staying out of that lane when there is no cause to be there.

Developing your “eye” for spotting those transgressions, along with cell phone violations, failures to yield, turning into wrong lane, running red lights and countless others will not only relieve any perceived boredom you may have, but will sharpen your driving awareness, effectiveness and resulting safety.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at