When I wake up and it’s raining, I dread my commute to work.
It’s not that I don’t know how to drive in unfavorable conditions. I learned to drive in western Wyoming and used to make a 10 to 12-hour trek from Missoula, Mont., to Lander, Wyo., on snow-packed, ice-covered mountain passes so I could be with my family on Christmas.
I’ve slid sideways at speeds that barely moved the speedometer and dealt with white-out conditions.
However, what made winter driving up north easier was people understood a few basic precautions and took them — slow down, and leave more space between you and the car in front of you.
My trip into Sedona on Thursday morning, Dec. 16, was quite possibly the worst I’ve experienced since I moved to Arizona. Luckily, after making the drive day after day you begin to pick out the drivers to stay away from — they cut people off, tailgate at high speeds and have little to no regard for others on the road.
I spotted one of those drivers approaching in the passing lane Thursday and knew right away I better keep my eye on him. Approaching a red light at Cornville Road he was tailgating a small Honda Civic with his big blue Dodge Ram in the right lane.
After the light turned green the Honda kept a safe distance from the car in front of it, proper technique for a water-covered highway, as it accelerated. The man in the blue truck looked over at me a couple of times — we were now driving next to each other — and then, in one fell swoop, moved into my lane pushing me onto the shoulder.
Luckily, I knew he was there and just as dangerous as the driver of the black Land Cruiser that weaves tightly in and out of traffic every morning, and I had only made it up to 45 miles per hour.
Shaken by the situation, I didn’t get his license plate number before he pulled the same maneuver on another vehicle to get back into the left lane.
I understand it’s frustrating when slow traffic drives in the left lane. I’ve been known to become quite annoyed by the oblivious driver traveling 5 miles per hour below the speed limit in the fast lane.
However, getting annoyed and driving dangerously are two different reactions.
When it’s wet and slick on the highway, be aware of those around you. If you’re going slow, stay in the right lane where you belong. If you’re going fast, don’t put others in danger by driving like a maniac.
I’m not surprised we rarely make it out of storm without a car accident. The sad part is the cautious driver is often the victim of someone else’s bad driving.
I almost became that victim Thursday. Strangely, it was the first day in months I didn’t see a single law enforcement officer between my home in Clarkdale and office in Uptown.