Maybe it's time for Duluth and Superior drivers to go back to relearn how to drive!

For most people, drivers instruction happens during their high school years - usually around their 16th birthday. Too often once that drivers license is obtained, people start to pick up bad habits that are not only unsafe but also illegal.

While I don't pretend to be a perfect driver myself, there is something that I see happen on streets and highways more often than I used to.  It has to do with swerving into the lane of oncoming traffic to avoid an obstacle in yours.

You've seen it I'm sure.  You're driving along in your lane on the right hand side, and an oncoming vehicle in the left lane encounters something it their way - a bicyclist, pedestrian, a parked car, even debris. In order for them to avoid the obstacle in their lane, the oncoming vehicle swerves over into your lane, expecting you to yield to them.

It's against the law and it's unsafe.

According to Minnesota Statutes Transportation (Ch. 160-174A) 169.18. Driving rules, subsection 5:

"No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken.  In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to the right-hand side of the roadway before coming within 100 feet of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction."

To summarize, no vehicle is allowed to drive to the left of the center line (for passing or - in the case of this article - for avoiding an obstruction) unless that left hand lane "is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance".

In other words if you encounter an obstruction in your lane and there is a vehicle in the oncoming lane, you should slow down enough to stay in your lane until the oncoming lane is clear; then and only then can you cross that center line in order to pass or clear the obstruction in your lane.

Sounds simple.  But for whatever reason it apparently isn't.

I routinely encounter oncoming vehicles that cross over into my lane of traffic so that they can avoid the obstacle in their lane - forcing me to react in some fashion (i.e. slow down, brake, swerve to avoid them). And usually - no matter how I react - I get the "looks" from that oncoming driver, like I wasn't reacting enough to avoid their illegal lane cross over.

Look.  I'm all for being accommodating.  And of course I'm courteous and respectful enough to "make room" so that nothing unsafe happens.  But I also believe that that accommodation is a two-way street - especially when that other driver is flagrantly violating the law.

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