28 Dec

Drivers have always muttered (or shouted) about the out-of-towners who don’t know where they are going or don’t understand the rules of the road in that location. My father always insisted that people in North Dakota got their driver’s license as a cereal box prize. He also claimed that South Dakota gave away licenses without any type of test even though the sister-in-law who taught him to drive got hers by telling the license office that she had lost her original He considered her a good driver and was happy to have her provide instruction when he learned to drive at age 40. I never knew if the aunt’s story was true but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Rules seemed to be more flexible back then.

In Washington state between East Wenatchee and Quincy there is a stretch of highway that permits driving on the shoulder during daylight hours. In other locations that sign is accompanied by another that require “slow traffic” – that is, cars with more than five vehicles behind them – to pull over. The signs are posted and the highway is designed with that action expected.

We have a highway that is 4 lane in some sections, 3 lane in a few and long 2 lane portions. In some places it is almost like a freeway with exit ramps and overpasses. In others there are numerous crossroads and farm/ranch access roads. The unwritten rule is that you will pull over to the shoulder lane to allow anyone behind to pass you without concern for passing lanes or oncoming traffic.  There are no signs suggesting this but I’ve seen other drivers do so. Depending on what vehicle I’m driving, my speed and where I am on the road, I have done just that. To not do so means that the person (usually a truck) behind will honk, flash lights and at the very least see how close they can come to my bumper without hitting me. Some have made me feel like I’m in the old movie “Duel”.  Some drivers will pass in no passing zones with or without oncoming traffic. I’m a serious but safe driver. I would never be confused with the little old lady doing 15 in a 45 zone while she peers through the steering wheel. I travel at the 70 mile per hour speed limit on this road unless it is foggy, icy or at night. I try to be conscious and considerate of other drivers. I slow down and wait until there is a safe place to pass. I do the same with the decision to pull over. I will not do so at 70 mph nor if I can’t see the side of the road for incoming traffic. This action can put us in peril from the driver directly behind. I hate those damned if you do or damned if you don’t situations.  Thoughts of revenge pass though my mind without acting on them. Does anyone have better suggestions?


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