Playing Russian Roulette on the road

A Floyd County teenager died recently in a single-car crash. He wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car.  He was drinking as well.

A semi-truck driver roared through Floyd Friday night at well over the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, almost hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of Angels at the Attic and narrowly missing those listening to music on Locust Street.

My wife crossed Locust Street in the same crosswalk Friday and a motorist slammed on his brakes and shook his fist at her even though he was ignoring the law that says pedestrians have the right of way.

On any given day on the road I see cars illegally passing on the right of a car that is turning left, passing on double solid lines, running stop signs and breaking other traffic laws. The roads, sadly, are filled with inattentive drivers talking or texting on cell phones. Others are simply bad drivers.

All are dangerous. All are playing Russian Roulette not only with their lives but with the destiny of those unfortunate enough to be on the road at the same.

Like so many rural areas, Floyd County’s roads are open season for stupid drivers doing stupid things with dangerous weapons — their vehicles. The county has too many miles of roads patrolled by too few State Troopers and Sheriff’s deputies. Recently, I saw a Virginia State Trooper pass a car on the right on Main Street in front of the Floyd Pharmacy. He was also talking on a cell phone at the time. His emergency lights were not flashing.

Passing on the right is a reckless driving charge in Virginia — one that deducts points from your license. Yet how can we expect a trooper who breaks that law to enforce it on others?  I checked the court records and could not find a single ticket written by that trooper for passing on the right.

Every person on the road who ignores such laws are killers in waiting, potential murderers whose actions could take the lives of others.

They should be treated as such…and punished accordingly.

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

11 thoughts on “Playing Russian Roulette on the road”

  1. Of course you can legally pass a vehicle on the right. See Virginia Code 46.2-841

    A. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only:

    1. When the overtaken vehicle is making or about to make a left turn, and its driver has given the required signal;

    2. On a highway with unobstructed pavement, not occupied by parked vehicles, of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction;

    3. On a one-way street or on any one-way roadway when the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.

    B. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. Except where driving on paved shoulders is permitted by lawfully placed signs, no such movement shall be made by driving on the shoulder of the highway or off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway.

    • Sir, I’m afraid the law you cite that allows passing on the right under certain circumstances does not apply in the situations that Mr. Thompson cites.

      Section 46.2-841 applies to four-lane roads and municipal streets where parking lanes are also used as designated traffic lanes during certain periods of the day (i.e. rush hours).

      Floyd county does not have four-lane highways or city streets where parking lanes also double as traffic lanes.

      As a retired police officer who wrote many citations for passing on the right I can say with authority that Mr. Thompson’s interpretation of the law is correct and yours is not.

      I can also say that if the state trooper who passed on the right while talking on a cell phone had been in my command he would have been severely disciplined. Officers charged with upholding the laws of the Commonwealth should set examples, not be part of the problem.

      • James, Do I need to remind you that the judge makes the decision, cops simply write the summons? The law says nothing about “four-lane roads”. And there is no specific law or ordinance that prohibits cell phone use in this case. Might be poor judgment, and in fact my wife was struck by a cop talking on a cell phone. Man’s got to know his limits.

  2. For the sake of pedestrians, a citizens’ study of feasible measures that may be taken to secure more safety is needed.

    Perhaps more signs or warning lights would help, as the first step. The crowds will continue to grow, as will the traffic. It’s often very dangerous in downtown Floyd, especially on summer nights with full street-sides.

  3. Hey, this works well , if someone is driving like an idiot, epecially near the Country Store on Friday night, or wherever, motion the Vehicle to stop and proceed to beat the snot out of them.
    I’ve said it before, yep I’m from Chicago, and Floyd County is some of the worse drivers I have seen anywhere, and I used to drive over the road all over the USA.
    Pet peaves in Floyd, fog or dark out -no lights on
    25 mph down the back roads, hitting brakes constantly, and almost stopping for every curve, did anyone in Floyd take Drivers ED? Hey that little stem on the left side of sterring wheel is the turn signals, most folks around here don’t know that .
    That Bob above is not me, I don’t mind putting my full name up, you pass on the right, your nuts.

    • Well Chicago. I think you have that backwards. Being slow is not a characteristic of “Big City Drivers” People here are living a much slower lifestyle. It is the big city drivers trying to force us to drive their way that is the problem. What color was that flower you just passed. A local could tell you. And as they say in Chicago “What flower?” If we drive so bad go back to Chicago! Stop trying to change us!

  4. Doug,
    I agree this is a big problem in town. But there is also another problem in that area, while the pedestrians do have the right of way IN the cross walk, many will NOT get out of the way of an emergency vehicle. We need some sort of control in that area of town. I know of numerous times that fire dept members trying to get through the crowd there to respond to the station for a fire call have came close to hitting people. The same goes for when the fire trucks come through there trying to respond to a call on Rt 8 towards Christiansburg or even Rt 221 towards Willis. People simply WILL NOT get out of the way, even when they see lights flashing and the siren blasting. It is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, and when that happens WHO is going to be blamed for it?

    • Monica,
      I know exactly what you are talking about. I drove an ambulance on a rescue call several weeks ago and had to go past the country store. There were people walking out in front of me while I had both lights and sirens on. It is really crazy through there. I am really surprised someone hasn’t been hurt already.

  5. I have often thought of writing a letter to the editor re: passing on the right of a vehicle turning left. In all the places i’ve lived or visited i have never seen this done as a rule of thumb like floyd. Everybody does it as if it’s the right thing to do.

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