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


Devote thought to the task


For years, I’ve said that driving is not that difficult.  Maybe that’s why so many people go about it distracted and lacking thought devoted to the task.  I like to believe that everyone has the potential to drive well.  However, based on what I see, that belief is difficult to muster.  In fact, the actions of many drivers handily thwart that hope. 

Maybe some drivers truly are hopeless.  For example, can drivers who create rolling roadblocks by driving their car below the speed limit in the left lane aside another car and not passing it drive better?  Maybe not.

To improve, those drivers would have to become cognizant of the speed limit, maintain proper vehicle speed,  know the rules of the road regarding left lane use, take occasional glances in the rear-view mirror and have consideration for others.  Are such drivers making such errors really incapable of doing better?  Or are they simply unwilling to try?  Even worse, are they knowingly making the errors?

Driving an automobile properly, even in the absence of emergencies, is one of the busiest multi-tasking endeavors that we engage in.  Looking far ahead, checking mirrors, judging proximity of other vehicles, staying within lane, maintaining speed, operating accessories, scanning gauges and  interacting with passengers takes a devoted effort.  Evidently, many drivers resist perfecting these requirements.

So, those left lane louts are either unable or unwilling to do better.  That’s sad, but I’d actually prefer it to be the case; otherwise it’s intentional or purposeful.  There actually are drivers, who, for whatever reason, want to control traffic.  For example, they feel like driving below the speed limit and wish to constrain others to do the same.

It’s hard for me to understand the justification for that sort of self-policing of traffic, but it’s a real phenomenon.  I’ve even had drivers admit that they hold speed exactly at or just below the limit when making a freeway pass to keep potential speeders at bay.

Possibly, these self-appointed traffic regulators, within the perceived anonymity and protection of their vehicles, wield a show of supremacy over others they may lack in the “real” world.  They are using their cars and trucks as shields and weapons in their battle for power and control.

What else can explain such driving behavior?  As mentioned, I prefer to think that maybe it’s just not taking the task of driving as seriously as one should rather than based on control or spite.

And one should take the driving task very seriously.  Though strides have been made in overall motoring safety, nearly 100 lives per day are still lost in vehicle crashes.  Driving is probably the riskiest activity most of us take on that we have control over.

That’s why I feel that it’s worthwhile to put plenty of effort into precision driving, something I can control, thus improving my odds of survival while at the wheel.

It seems to me that devoting due diligence to driving, lending appropriate knowledge, thought and consideration in the process, is a worthy exercise in self-preservation and the safety of others.  It’s one of the most dangerous activities we undertake, but we can influence outcome.  

And please, for safety’s sake and in the interest of quelling road rage, don’t drive poorly on purpose.  If you cannot drive effectively after practiced efforts of concentration and consideration, then look into obtaining a bus pass.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at