» Speed up or pull over


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Speed up or pull over

Written March 6th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
That double line goes on for a long way, so settle back and wait.

That double line goes on for a long way, so settle back and wait.

Picture yourself on one of our winding two-lane roads through the hills, and for some reason yours is not the only vehicle on the road. OK, so maybe it is a nice afternoon, and lots of other people are driving home from the beach. The weather is good and the pavement dry, so why is that guy in front driving no more than 40 miles an hour, and why does he get on the brakes for every gentle curve?

You are asking yourself this because you know that for the next 30 miles or so, there’s an unbroken double yellow line down the middle of the road. Which means you are going to be stuck in this caravan of road turtles for the foreseeable future. And you wish you could remember if there’s a section of the motor vehicle code that requires drivers to pull over once they have acquired a tail consisting of a certain number of vehicles.

From when you learned to drive in the mountains of Southern California — in the middle of the century before this — you vaguely recall that the rule used to be “five.” You see five cars trailing you on a two-lane, you’re supposed to get out of the way and let them go by. No such rule seems to be in force on this particular road on this particular afternoon, or if it does the leader of our parade has not heard of it or is choosing to ignore it.

Weeks later, you are looking for vindication in the DMV’s Oregon driver’s manual. And yes, there it is: “Watch for congestion behind you if you drive slower than the designated speed,” the manual says. “Pull off the road at the first area where it is safe to turn out and let the traffic behind you pass. The overtaking driver must obey the speed law.”

The admonition is welcome, but it is weak because it is vague. “Congestion? What congestion?” you can picture the guy in front saying to himself. “I look in the mirror and see six or seven cars, tops. Big deal.”

The good thing is that despite poking along at 40 mph, even a long drive eventually ends. But it sure would be nice if on the subject of slow drivers giving way to those behind them on two-lane roads, the DMV was more precise. (hh)

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4 responses to “Speed up or pull over”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Forty MPH about the highest speed a person can actively “text” and still half ways pay attention to driving. That’s been the case most times when we were finally able to pass them. There are many people that still think texting & driving is no big deal. Have them “multi-task” at work though…. complaint time to the union steward for sure…!!!! JE

  2. Mike Reynolds offered this on Facebook: “It should only take one vehicle behind the slow poke driver. If your holding up traffic please find a wide spot and let them or her or him by.”

  3. Jim Clausen says:

    I’m surprised Hasso can pedal his bicycle fast enough to pass cars…!!!

  4. Warren Beeson says:

    These same inconsiderate jerks can be found on the freeway clogging up the left-hand lane. We used to have a “driving lane” and a “passing lane” but that seems to have gone the way of the spotted owl. Especially younger drivers seem to feel its ok to whip back and forth across the traffic lanes to pass anyone at any time. Of course, one can understand their frustration with the above-mentioned “lane-hogs” who refuse to pull to the right. Only us old fuddy-duddies remember the adage to “drive on the right, pass on the left; which does in fact make for a much safer, more orderly, and ultimately quicker trip for all.


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