Opinion: Biggest problem on I-80 — drivers who fail to keep right | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Biggest problem on I-80 — drivers who fail to keep right

Anne Grogan
Opinion

Editor’s note

Per Ms. Grogan’s questions at the end of this opinion piece, it should be noted that the California Highway Patrol is the agency responsible for enforcing traffic laws on Interstate 80, not Caltrans.

California Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Liza Whitmore punted when explaining to the Sierra Sun that more accidents are occurring on Interstate 80 between Truckee and Reno likely because of rain and snow, regarding the Dec. 9 Sun story, “I-80 wrecks: If you thought there were more than usual at Floriston, you’re right.”

As someone who can proudly say I have enjoyed driving through all lower 48 states and as a commuter who has used this stretch of roadway on-and-off for more than two decades, I have no doubt the most dangerous aspect of my commute between Truckee and Reno is the driver who fails to keep right except to pass.

A young woman dressed for snowboarding told me once while I griped to a friend in line at Wild Cherries. “Oh, we don’t have that in California.”

Yes we do. Both California and Nevada at least require drivers to yield the left lane when impeding traffic and/or moving slower than others (I was taught if you’re not passing anyone, then you’re moving slower than everyone therefore drive on the right).

California Department of Motor Vehicles states online that “Some of the more common driver behaviors which lead to accidents include: (a) driving too fast, (b) tailgating, (c) inattentiveness, (d) poor visual scanning, (e) making poor decisions, (f) improper lane changes, (g) unsafe passing, (h) failing to yield the right-of-way, (i) failure to keep right, and (j) being unable to handle a vehicle in emergency situations.” (http://bit.ly/2h7a22h)

Excluding inattentiveness, this describes everyday, every-drive conditions on Interstate 80 between Truckee and Reno.

We commuters are most vulnerable when those who come up in the left lane slow down when they get alongside the vehicle in the right lane.

By not moving through, these drivers ensure all others on the roadway in their vicinity have absolutely nowhere to go in the event of an obstruction in either lane ahead. It happens all the time.

And while traffic accumulates behind these people who absolutely refuse to pass in a timely manner, at least one or two trailing drivers starts to feel a little more anxious.

Unfortunately I witness road rage or dangerous maneuvers every time I drive this stretch. I’m guilty of dangerous maneuvers in an effort to position myself more safely, away from that left-lane-lingerer.

I’d like to ask Ms. Whitmore: Why don’t we enforce a law so critical to safety? Why don’t those distracting highway signs occasionally remind people to drive right and pass on the left?

Anne Grogan is a Reno resident.