• Defensive Driving Rule #48: Give Way on Mountain Roads

    Most of us know the rules about driving to the right on multilane highways under normal conditions, and moving left only to pass. This isn't just courtesy, or standard operating procedure, but it's often a legal requirement as well. But what about roads where there is only a single lane in each direction?

    If you've driven much, especially during the seasons where lots of vacationers are on the roads, you've encountered slower vehicles, sightseers, or often large vehicles (RVs or trucks) or those pulling trailers of some sort, slowing up traffic on curvy, steep mountain roads. If you've ever had to follow such a vehicle very far without being able to pass, you know it can be very frustrating.

    If you are the driver of a vehicle that's held up by a slower vehicle, think about staying calm and patient, and don't take chances. As drivers, we have the responsibility to deal safely and positively with all situations we encounter on the road -- and slow vehicles are just one of the possibilities. We stay in control and drive safely despite the crazy folks around us! Pros don't let things get to them, and neither should the rest of us. It's easier said than done, but your safety is worth more than a moment's anger.

    If you are the driver of a slower vehicle, frequently give way to following traffic that wants to pass. In my state of Arizona, if you are holding up five or more vehicles that appear to want to pass, you MUST yield the roadway to them at the first safe opportunity. You do not have to pull off on a dangerous shoulder, but at the first improved, safe place, you must yield, stopping if necessary, and allow the following vehicles to pass. Many states have similar laws. Keep in mind this law isn't at all affected by how underpowered or overloaded your vehicle may be -- it is not a defense to say that if you had pulled off, you'd not have been able to get rolling again. If that's the case, then you are not driving a vehicle that's safe under the conditions existing -- conditions that you've created by the choices you made.

    As a defensive driver, I think about the state of mind of the other drivers around me, since their unsafe actions may also endanger me. With that in mind, I will often pull off and allow even just one or two following vehicles to pass me. It is not worth it to me to have an impatient and possibly angry driver on my tail. Does it cost me time? Yes, it does! But it's only a few seconds, and one of my goals in life is to relax and enjoy the ride a little more, so this fits in with my overall "plan." To sum up, drive to the right if you're not passing on multilane roads, and yield to faster vehicles even on narrow mountain roads.

    May you find dry, smooth pavement and cheap gasoline!