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


Summer slowdowns

I’ll admit I get steamed over uncalled-for driving slowdowns — but the slowdowns of summer are inevitable.  I don’t enjoy inattentive drivers who fail to notice that a traffic light has changed to green or incompetent ones who nearly stop before making a turn, but I try to tolerate such typical slowdowns.  Now, there are additional summer slowdowns ahead with road construction and proliferation of bicycles, along with seasonal speed limit reductions for parks and playgrounds.

Time issues seem to confound most drivers.  Even when there is truly no hurry, roadway holdups raise ire in many drivers. In fact, many incidents of road rage rise from such slowdowns and holdups.  Just yesterday, a driver behind me was yelling and motioning with flailing arms for me to go because he evidently thought my wait for cross-traffic to clear was too lengthy.

Slowdowns are inevitable when driving and good drivers take them in stride.  So, whether they are uncalled for (stopping in roadway, driving 10 mph below the limit) or necessary (school zones, congestion), try to adopt a meditative attitude while experiencing slowdowns. 

Of course, this approach is easiest when you actually have no time issue, so avoid a departure time that leaves no margin for error in required arrival time.  If it takes 21 minutes in ideal conditions to get to work and you only allow 22, every delay along the way will raise your blood pressure.  If you allow 30 minutes you’ll take a more carefree attitude toward the congestion, traffic jams, red lights, pedestrians, bicycles and construction you may encounter.

With the advent of summer, there will be additional factors to inhibit traffic flow.  Just when school zones become less of a factor, parks and playgrounds will be more of one.  Yellow speed signs are considered “suggested” speeds in certain areas like curves, but speed limit signs with black letters and numbers on white background are enforceable.

Near Comstock Park, summer seasonal signs are posted.  The adjacent 29th Avenue posts a yellow sign with two children on a see-saw, but the accompanying black and white 20 mph speed limit sign is regularly enforced by local police.  The road is normally posted at 30 mph, though last year the 20 mph signs never came down — I blame the virus.

In either case, seasonal or permanent, the intent is for vehicles to travel at 20 mph for the safety of children near the park and pool.  I would suggest heeding the 20 mph speed, to easier avoid conflict with stray pedestrians in the area and miss the attention of law officers.

Road construction is another certainty of summer driving.  Locally, the roadwork has already begun. Even the efficiency of road trips is compromised by sudden drops from 75 mph to 50 mph in highway constructions zones.  I don’t like that when I’m trying to make good time, but it’s best to accept its inevitability ahead of time and be prepared to live contentedly with it.

The Washington State Patrol issues an annual reminder for motorists, “to plan ahead and be prepared as the start of the road construction season which is upon us.”  The advice goes on to remind drivers to slow down and increase following distances in those zones.

That’s good advice, since lanes narrow, congestion builds, and fines double in construction areas — so please exhibit due care and caution there and everywhere this summer.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at