Bicyclists aren't the only public nuisances on Denver streets. After we published our Eight Rules of the Road for Cyclists, readers suggested that we write something about the ways that drivers can be asshats, too. Good idea.
Not that deflecting blame for bad behavior should be rewarded. (It’s just as poor an argument to say “Bikers shouldn’t have to obey laws because there are bad drivers” as to say “It’s okay that Melania Trump plagiarized a little bit because Obama did it and Biden did it and also everyone did it in a sixth-grade book report.” One instance of poor behavior in no way excuses another. So in the interests of fairness, we're calling Colorado drivers on their bullshit, too. Here are eight rules of the road for them to observe:
8. Stop Lines
The reader who requested this list lodged a complaint about stop lines — and it's a good one, because out of all the unheeded driving rules, coming to a stop in the right place at an intersection is probably the one that gets ignored the most. It happens almost everywhere...at least, everywhere there’s not a camera perched to capture a shot of drivers imposing themselves into the crosswalk, blocking pedestrians and just plain breaking the law. The stop line is there for a reason, and "stop" isn't one of those terms that carries with it some sense of greater and hidden meaning. This is a line where you’re supposed to stop. Couldn't be simpler. 7. Speeding Speed limits are another oft-broken law (unless there’s a police car around or, worse yet, one of those photo-radar vans that make everyone go five miles under the speed limit just in case their speedometer is off). In fact, most drivers do it on a daily basis. Yes, there’s an argument to be made that speed limits are sometimes ridiculous and in some ways statistically dangerous — but it's not an argument you're going to win. You can trot out your Autobahn references and your “going with the speed of traffic” lines and your “but, officer, I was passing someone, so I had to speed up to get around them” excuses. The fact is that exceeding the speed limit is breaking the law, and in some places (school zones, etc.), it's a pretty awful idea.
6. The Left Lane Law Colorado drivers have this awesome rule that is meant to preclude massive road rage due to slow drivers (either by choice or necessity) on highways, and it's especially important on those two-lane stretches of I-70 west of Denver. Sticking to the right lane is not just good manners, folks; it’s the law. You drive in the right lane unless you’re passing. So don’t think that just because you’re going the speed limit (and exactly the speed limit) that you’re safe to cruise along in the left lane — and definitely don’t think you’re some sort of traffic vigilante meting out street justice on all those vehicles honking at you to get out of the way. They’re right, you’re wrong, and seriously, dude: You’re not Batman.
5. Seat Belts You’ve probably seen the various ads reminding you that wearing your seat belt is the law in Colorado. Whether it’s “Click It or Ticket” or CDOT's recent “Beware the Beltless” commercial in which the super-creepy girl in the back seat is telling her friends in the front how she’s about to kill them by becoming an unsecured projectile in their looming crash (CDOT has a spotty record for good judgment on ad campaigns), the reminders are everywhere. And with good reason: Seat belts do save lives, and not just your own.
Keep reading for four more rules of the road.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.