More Road Ragin’

By Beacon Staff

It’s been several years since I last griped about my fellow Northwest Montana “drivers.”

Remember, I told you about that poll that had far more than half of all drivers rating themselves “above average?”

Well, we’re certainly above average here in the Flathead – in crashes and fatalities. That’s shameful, doubly so because despite engineering oopsies, our infrastructure is good – yet the blood and glass sprays.

If I started a driving school, and maybe someone should, here’s SOME lessons needing taught:

Hang Up And Drive: I wasn’t surprised the other day when a fellow in a gray Ford pickup spaced out, making an illegal left and south off Reserve onto 93 right beside me. Yep, yapping on his cell. As for texting and driving – I think texters are worse criminals than drunks. Drunks at least know they are sloshed and usually drive more timidly. Put the phone and the bottle down, morons!

Lead, Follow, or Move the Heck Over: In the left lane? My passing you on the right is a hint, sweetness! Unless you’re seconds from a turn, move over! If you’re snailing through the corners and have collected a convoy, do us all a favor: In passing zones, stay out of the throttle and help others get by. Even better, plan to pull in that wide spot you go by daily. Oh, you don’t plan?

Truckers are People, Too: Most motorists treat trucks as obstacles to be wantonly zoomed around. But odds are that professional trucker surely has zillions more miles and experience than you, all while herding 40 tons through conditions you wouldn’t dare try.

See that nice space between that big rig and the vehicle ahead? That’s the trucker’s safety gap, not yours to zoom into, jam your brakes, and then creep into a narrow driveway. Tuck in safely behind the truck, then make your turn. Trucks (and buses) deserve respect, front and rear.

Mirrors: Vehicle mirrors aren’t just for checking your comb-over or makeup. Really. Mirrors have a safety and awareness function – keep them clean, adjusted properly, then use them once in a while. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ll see – my finger, for instance.

Your Neck: Your head sits on a swivel for good reason, mainly to look for sneaking danger. Take a gander at your blind spot once in a while. If you don’t have time for a peek before changing lanes, guess what, dummy? You’re following too close!

Turn Signals: In general, you should signal every time you change lanes or direction. No exceptions. If you think nobody is around to see it – trust me, those are the times you NEED to signal. If you don’t properly signal all your turns, you’re an idiot.

Headlights: Montana is dark half the year, yet way too many drivers grope along with either maladjusted or dirty headlights. Aside from truckers, I have yet to see another motorist take the time to wipe road slime off their headlights while fueling. Never mind all the yobs with crazed, translucent headlight housings – I can see them, but can they see the road markings, or deer, or me? Heck no!

Windows: Some folks apparently hate cold hands more than a cold grave, so they drive off with ice and snow coating headlights, taillights, glass – everything the wipers don’t push off. One of these twits almost got me killed a few years ago.

Long story short, Miss Leadfoot Lateforwork had just stuffed her frost-windowed peacemobile in front of me, then immediately was completely blinded by the brilliant Colorado sunrise. As I backed away hard, her wipers flipped on “fast” (lotta good that’ll do), then she drifted into the path of a rancher rig.

To this day I don’t know how he managed to miss her and not roll. I do remember seeing his coffee cup airborne and spraying, as he and I dodged each other and straightened back out-alive in that special adrenalized way.

Did that foolish woman kill somebody later on? I don’t know, as I moved home to Montana a few weeks later, thinking it would be safer.

Speed safely, darn it!

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.