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


Attitude is everything


The condition of your mind is just as important the condition of your vehicle when driving.  A running engine is not enough to make your car safe.  To be a safe conveyance, the condition of all systems — transmission, brakes, tires, suspension steering, et cetera — must be at optimum levels.  When any item is substandard, safety is compromised.

Drivers with a less-than-ideal mental state similarly compromise safety for themselves and others.  Conversely, drivers adopting and maintaining a good attitude enhance safety.

A description of a good attitude can be inferred by first exploring the opposite — a bad attitude.  I saw a good example of a questionable attitude as I once approached a slow moving vehicle (20 mph in a 35 mph zone).  The evidently hostile driver had placed a sign in his car’s rear window reading, “IF YOU TAILGATE I WILL SLOW DOWN.”  This person was attempting to control the driving of others.  If that were his quest, he should have entered a career in law enforcement. 

I prefer a state of mind where I can’t control the actions of others, but can control my reactions to them.  The attitude of this driver directly conflicts with that sentiment.  I don’t want a sign in my rear window addressing tailgaters, but if I did it would read, “If you tailgate I will pull over and let you by.”  Since I can’t control tailgaters and I can control myself, I choose to pull over to quell potential rage from either of us.

Some drivers justify holding up left-lane traffic with the collective mantra, “I’m going the speed limit.”  Why, when there are multiple lanes for traffic, do some drivers enjoy creating rolling roadblocks by refusing to pass and pull to the right?  I suggest it’s due to poor attitudes.

I’ve repeated this many times, but it is not legal in any state to continuously occupy the left lane of a road with two or more lanes in the same direction of travel.  The topic even appears on the Washington State Patrol Website’s frequently asked questions section.  There, the question is posed, “Can I travel in the left lane of traffic all of the time?”  The answer:  “NO.  The law reads ‘stay right except to pass.’  Signs are posted.”

Beyond that signage, Revised Code of Washington 46.61.100, titled, “Keep right except when passing, etc.,” lays out specifics.  That law allows for left lane use only when overtaking another vehicle, moving left to allow a merge from the right, or preparing to take a legal left turn.  There is even a fourth provision that seems to accommodate speeders, allowing legal left lane use when “travelling at a speed greater than the traffic flow.” 

Whether or not you approve of the speed of the vehicle approaching from your rear, it is your legal obligation to pull to the right when travelling a “two-laner.”  Even travelling at the speed limit, you have no right to “enforce” the speed of other vehicles by hoarding the left lane without meeting one of the prerequisites listed in the aforementioned RCW.

A proper driving attitude is one absent of anger.  Try to attain and maintain space around your vehicle, avoiding interfering with others.  When another vehicle interferes with yours, it’s good to remember that we all make mistakes.

A controlling, hostile attitude is counter-productive to safe driving, and kindling for road rage.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at