Scenario One: You’re driving south on U.S. 221 into Floyd. A car ahead of you signals a left turn into the X-Press Mart on Main Street but has to stop because of oncoming traffic. Is it legal for you to pass the car on the right and proceed on your way?
Scenario Two: A car is waiting to turn left at the stop light at Main and Locust Streets in downtown Floyd. Can you legally pass that car on the right to make a right turn or proceed straight?
The answer to both questions is “no.” Passing on the right in a single lane of traffic is reckless driving under Virginia law. Yet drivers in Floyd County do it all the time. On Tuesday morning, in the rain, I stopped behind a car that was turning left into X-Press Mart. Seven cars passed both of us on the right. Seven. All guilty of reckless driving.
This kind of reckless disregard for traffic laws is all too typical of drivers in this county. A State Police officer calls passing on the right “epidemic.” A local insurance agent tells me he feels more safe driving on the urban streets of Roanoke than the rural roads of Floyd County.
“There are too many bad drivers in Floyd County,” he says. “I know. My company pays the claims when they have accidents.”
On any given day on any road in Floyd County, I can count multiple drivers who pass on the right, drive well over the speed limit, fail to signal turns, cross over the yellow line when traffic is approaching or turn in front of oncoming traffic.
Driving into Floyd in thick fog Tuesday morning, I counted 17 cars running without any lights. I see too many cars running without lights in dim early morning or early evening light. I see too many idiots talking on cell phones or even texting while trying to drive. While that activity is not yet illegal in Virginia (except for those under 18), it is both stupid and dangerous.
I’m not sure how some of these people got — or keep — licenses to drive but they are dangers on the road. Sadly, too many people feel that talking about bad drivers is a waste of time and consider breaking traffic laws to be funny. Those who feel that way need to spend a night riding with the county rescue squad to see what happens when people drive recklessly or Thursdays in General District Court listening to the incredibly stupid — and dangerous — things that people do while behind the wheel of a car or truck.
A vehicle — when operated by a bad driver — is a far more dangerous weapon than a gun. It kills more people every year than guns and wars combined.