A driver’s guide for passing and slow-moving vehicles

Jul 26, 2022, 6:25 AM
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)...
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Slow-moving vehicles and risky passers, they can be a deadly combination on our one-lane highways around the state. With about a month left in the summer driving season, it’s time for a good reminder of the rules.

I travel Highway 101 a lot, going from Puget Sound to the Long Beach Peninsula. I’ve seen some pretty hairy situations, near-misses, and the aftermath of head-on collisions. I’ve been frustrated at the wheel while behind slow-moving trucks and trailers, and I have even passed two cars at once going well over the speed limit.

Construction won’t ease just because the hot Mariners are hosting Houston

I never pass against the lane striping because I know that is just too risky, but I see that move from other drivers on almost every trip. State Trooper Gil Vandenkooy said those moves usually don’t end well.

“You’re coming up on a blind curve or a crest of a hill those are the times you don’t want to pass because you have no idea what’s presented on the other side of that hill, coming around the curve or what may or may not be coming at you, maybe at the same or higher rate,” he said. “You just don’t know.”

And it’s not just the on-coming traffic you have to worry about. You can simply lose it while going too fast and run off into the shoulder and hit a tree. Vandenkooy has this to say about trees: “Trees don’t move, ever,” he said. “You hit a tree on the side of the shoulder, even a little small diameter tree, you’re not moving that tree.”

So what are the rules of the road?

Let’s start with the slow-moving vehicle law.

“A slow-moving vehicle behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line shall turn off the roadway where there is a sufficient area for a safe turnout or exit in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed,” Vandenkooy said.

It’s up to the driver of that slow-moving vehicle to realize there is a line forming behind and find a safe place to pull over to the side, but those following drivers recognize that not every shoulder is the right place or the slow-moving driver might not feel safe pulling off there. Both drivers need to be aware and courteous.

I know many of us have been in that trailing position, which leads me to the passing law. You need to wait until it is legal and safe to pass. You also shouldn’t be passing vehicles on two-lane roads which are going the speed limit. “Right now you’re safely in a lane,” Vandenkooy said. “You may be traveling below the posted speed limit. You may even be frustrated, but you’re going to eventually get where you’re going safely. You pass a car traveling at that rate of speed you’re just not going to survive it.”

And for those drivers being passed, please do not speed up to close the gap in front of you and make it more difficult for the passing driver to get back into the lane. All that does is limit your space to brake when the other driver pulls back in. That puts you at risk of an accident. Passing drivers, only pass when there is room to get back in. Don’t cram your way in and then jam on the brakes. That’s an accident waiting to happen.

“Be a courteous and kind fellow driver out there,” Vandenkooy said. “You have to be considerate of people driving around you. Everybody has the same issue. Get where they want to go as quickly as they can and do their business. Getting there safely is more paramount.”

Most of the deadly accidents on these one-lane roads can be prevented, if drivers just chill out behind the wheel. Let’s have a safe final few weeks of summer.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


I-90 - Snoqualmie Pass East (WSDOT)...
Chris Sullivan

I-90, Snoqualmie Pass construction returns with lane-widening and expected traffic delays

I-90 construction between North Bend and Ellensburg is back. Lane closures and long delays are in your future.
3 days ago
Photo courtesy of the City of Des Moines...
Chris Sullivan

Des Moines betting on fast ferry service to attract visitors

What's old is new again for Puget Sound transportation. Decades after turning our back on the water, one city is using it for congestion relief and a development spark.
4 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Roundabout to slow traffic on Hwy 9 in Snohomish

We're talking about roundabouts today because Highway 9 in Snohomish County is about to be closed down for about a week to put one in.
5 days ago
seafair boats bridge party...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 construction persists through Seafair weekend with WSDOT halfway through revival project

This is about as busy of a summer weekend as you can get in Seattle, but construction will not be taking any time off, this is Seafair Weekend.
10 days ago
(Photo by Philip James Corwin/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

Construction won’t ease just because the hot Mariners are hosting Houston

Friday's game against Houston is sold out, and T-Mobile Park will be near capacity but guess what?  Construction isn't going to be taking the weekend off.
24 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Another busy construction weekend to get in your way

It shouldn't be as bad as last weekend, but construction will once again get in your way over the next three days.
30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
A driver’s guide for passing and slow-moving vehicles