Driving In Idaho
- 10 July 2011 by Author 0 Comments
Driving In Idaho
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 07/10/11
Sometimes we need a little light-hearted diversion, even on something as mundane as driving. And sometimes we just need to lighten up and laugh at ourselves. Hopefully this will be taken in that spirit.
One of the benefits of living in Idaho is our license plate. We enjoy the luxury of a county designator which tells us where the vehicle ahead of us is registered. This feature provides us with an opportunity to make generalized observations about the driving patterns in other counties, as well as utter our driving expletives with greater specificity. For example, when we get cut off in traffic by a Utah driver, we can be no more specific in our verbal response than “Darned Utard!,” or some less cultured expletive. But when we get cut off by a 1A (Ada) plated vehicle, we’re enabled to be even more specific in our verbal response, “Darned Boisean!”
A frustrating pattern has migrated north from Utah. On the freeway, if you approach a vehicle in the left passing lane on the freeway that refuses to move over to the right lane, it’s most likely a Utahan or an 8B (Bonneville), 1J (Jefferson), or 1M (Madison) plated vehicle. I refer in affectionate terms to those drivers as “Utah North,” as they manifest the same degree of arrogance (“I’m here and I’m not going to move, so go around me!”) or undue sense of ownership, (“This is my lane, so find your own”), or inflated sense of self-importance (“My car’s nicer than yours, so I’m not budging”) as Utahans.
Utah has addressed the problem by posting “Slower traffic keep right.” Watch for similar signs to be posted in “Utah North.”
Increasingly we observe 1A vehicles manifesting that same characteristic. Driving through the Treasure Valley I can see how it could just be a means of survival over there. They get in a lane and don’t dare move out of it for fear of being run over by a larger vehicle or missing their exit. But when they’re driving on our side of the state the reason for remaining there is mitigated, and one is tempted to yell to them a line from the Wizard of Oz, “You’re not in Boise (Kansas) anymore!”
Posted speed limits serve two primary purposes: to indicate the safe driving speed for normal drivers and to provide a revenue source for the local constabulary, though perhaps not in that order. When driving down Jefferson Avenue or Hiline Road, 30 miles-per-hour seems to be a safe speed. Yet inevitably we’re forced to slow to a veritable crawling speed by someone comfortable with a much slower pace. Often those are 4B (Bingham) and 2P (Power) plated vehicles in front of us. It could be that they’re simply unaware of the posted speed limit or they lack familiarity with “the big city.”
Perhaps it’s nothing more than the slower pace of those more rural counties, and a reluctance to adapt. When I was a 4B resident in Moreland, I never suffered from that propensity for aberrantly slow driving, and I have the driving record to prove it. Corporal Earl Farmer of the Idaho State Police knew every member of my family by first name! Were we anomalies or have things just changed that much since we left there?
When it’s not a 4B or 2P vehicle poking along the streets of Pocatello causing traffic to slow dramatically, it’s someone talking on a cell phone. We may eventually have cell phone use made illegal in a moving vehicle, unless it’s a hands-free device. Until that time, a test could be employed when people apply or reapply for their driver’s license. Give them a stick of gum, and if they can’t chew it and walk down the hall at the same time, provide them a sticker for the back of their car that says, “Cell phone use banned in this vehicle!”
A common practice among some Idaho drivers is to turn to the left before they make a right turn. This has caused accelerated cardiovascular palpitations for me many times as it appears they’re going to turn right into me in the through lane, while all they’re doing is preparing a very wide turn to the right. We would understand that if they were driving a tractor-trailer rig, or if they were pulling a trailer of any kind. But in a pickup? I don’t think so. It could be that “city kid” mentality that they’re driving a “truck.” To those of us who grew up on farms, they’re pickups. To qualify as a truck it has to have twin screws and at least ten tires.
We can choose to be agitated over such driving idiosyncrasies, or we can learn patience. We’ll all live longer if we choose the latter.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.