COLUMN: Taking the ‘slow’ out of traffic flow

About 30 years ago while driving a truck and camper and towing a boat on North Cascades Highway 20 ...

COLUMN: Taking the ‘slow’ out of traffic flow

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

About 30 years ago while driving a truck and camper and towing a boat on North Cascades Highway 20, westbound past Ross Lake dam, I was stuck behind a little car cruising the twisting canyon road at a snail’s pace.

Not only was I held back, but behind me a line of cars disappeared into the distance, their drivers likely as PO’d as I was at the slow progress we were making.

Then sure enough, as we entered the little village of Newhalem with its straight stretch of road, the offending vehicle took off at warp speed.

Finally, I thought, I could increase the velocity of my homeward travel when in the rearview mirror I noticed flashing lights.

Obviously, a Washington State Highway Patrol officer was among those in the lengthy lineup behind me.

When I realized the lights were aimed at me, I pulled over to meet a very angry officer, who pointed out that it was against the law for a slow vehicle to impede more than five cars.

I protested that I also had been slowed by the car in front of me.

Regrettably, my camper had shielded the vehicle in front of me from the officer’s vision thus, since he didn’t buy my story, I took the fall (and a $100-plus fine) for slowing traffic.

The reason for the reminiscence is that finally British Columbia is cracking down slow drivers, at least those who impede traffic.

While there has been a law on our books to accomplish this, to my knowledge it is rarely enforced.

Now, thanks to forward-thinking Transportation Minister Todd Stone, new legislation may put some teeth into the law, particularly on Highway 1 where, as I’ve noted in previous columns, slow drivers hogging the left lane are a major cause of road rage and accidents.

As I understand it, the new rules will require drivers to keep to the right, except to pass other vehicles, and will enforce the current laws relating to impeding traffic on twisty two-lane routes.

Happy day, I say, and “good on ya” Todd for recognizing and taking action to alleviate driver frustration.

Now all that’s left, minister, at least with major improvements to Lower Mainland traffic flows, is to procure a billion or so out of treasury to widen the freeway to three lanes from Langley to Whatcom Road, or perhaps even as far as Bridal Falls.

Stone isn’t the only politician, however, to whom I am somewhat indebted at the moment.

While he never impressed me much, I do have to commend former U.S. President George Bush for making what must have been one of his few positive and well thought out decisions – to extend the period of Daylight Savings by about a month.

Thanks to Dubya, the clocks now move ahead on the 8th, the second Sunday in March.

Until 2006, we had to wait until the first Sunday in April to enjoy late evening sunshine.

And instead of turning the hands back at the end of October, we get about another week or so of fall daylight until the first Sunday in November.

So there, for anyone who thinks politicians never do anything practical for us!