Rick Steves is Criticized for Dangerous and Illegal Driving Tactics in England

It is obviously important for all drivers heading for foreign shores to learn as much as possible about the relevant driving laws and requirements, before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in the country being visited.

A ‘selfie’ screenshot of American television personality and travel expert Rick Steves driving, from the video he shared on Twitter (Image: Rick Steves)

Living in New York State, as we do, my wife and I are fans of Rick Steves ‘Europe’ travel shows — they are fun, and he’s often likably goofy in his presentations. But in many years of watching him, we have never before seen him do any blatantly illegal and unsafe driving.

The M6 Motorway looking north, and here still in Lancashire rather than Cumbria, about 30 miles south of where Rick Steves was filming himself, presumably with a cellphone, while driving. (Copyright image, 2014.)

Ironically, the section of motorway where Rick did his filming, just north of the Sedbergh Road interchange (M6, Junction 37) was one of my old patrol areas during my time on the Traffic Patrol department with Cumbria Police. So Rick, I have to tell you that you committed at least three separate offences!

  • Having a hand-held electronic device in your hand while driving — in this case clearly to record video;
  • Eating while driving (although that is just implied from the preparation, as shown in the film footage); and
  • remaining unnecessarily in the middle lane on the motorway. (Yes, people do it all the time in the USA because reprehensibly they have not been taught the dangers associated with this behavior, however when combined with America’s tacit approval of passing on either side on divided highways, it undeniably is a factor in the much higher highway death-rate in the USA than the rate for such in Britain.) The relevant British phrase is ‘lane discipline’ and it applies to all lanes at all times.

Article: American travel writer slammed for videoing M6 journey from Blackpool to Cumbria on phone

These are the same hills that Rick Steves was about to drive through, and in different weather conditions, but this is the so-called Tebay Gorge and the Howgill hills from the north, whereas Rick was approaching from the south. (As always, all of our photographs here were taken from the passenger seat!) Copyright image, 2014.

On a lighter note, Rick, your rental car was not ‘Airbag‘ as you said — probably just in jest — it was a Citroen. And while you said you were heading first to Windermere, then to Keswick, you had missed the exit (Junction 36) for Windermere!

If any of our U.S. or Canadian friends or readers are planning a trip to Britain and will be driving while there, please read the UK Highway Code first.

The A66 ‘trunk road’ at Threlkeld, Cumbria. (Copyright image, 2014.)

If Rick continued to Keswick (which has a silent ‘w’ – say ‘Kezzick’) from where he was shooting video, rather than turning back towards to Windermere, he passed through my own home valley of Threlkeld, just one of the many beautiful valleys in the English Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited national park in the world.

__________

Please be aware that this website is registered with the United States Copyright Office and that punitive legal action for damages may be taken against anyone who breaches our copyright. This, however, does not stop you from posting links to any of our pages, and you are welcome to do so.

The above copyright stipulation does not apply to the photograph of and by Rick Steves.

Move Over Or Slow Down — the wording is important

Around the USA, most states have legislation for which the name is typically shortened to the ‘Move Over Law,’ but some states then go on to give bad advice that is potentially unsafe.

An almost perfect sign in New York State. The safest advice is ‘Move Over or Slow Down.’ See the article for a full explanation. (Copyright image, 2019.)

For example “slow down and move over” is inviting extra danger yet some states do use that wording in their advice.

Anytime a driver has to change lanes on a multi-lane highway, it is naturally important to ensure there are no faster-moving vehicles catching up in the lane you wish to move into. In that one sentence is found the logic behind the correct wording for this scenario.

If a driver slows down and then tries to change lanes, it is quite possible they will have created an unsafe situation in relation to vehicles catching up from behind. If a lane-change is necessary, as it is under the Move Over laws, then if it is safely possible it is wise to maintain speed and then do a safe lane change.

So the safest advice is:  Move Over OR Slow Down

If it is not safe or possible to make a lane-change then it is imperative for drivers in the lane nearest the static vehicle/s to slow down significantly. Some states, for example, require that under these circumstances a vehicle must be doing at least 20mph below the posted speed limit when it passes the static vehicle/s, but this varies and you should check what the law says in your state.

A state police trooper emerging from his unmarked SUV to deal with a speeder he had just stopped. Clearly, the officer is at significant risk from drivers who pay no attention and fail to comply with the ‘Move Over or Slow Down laws’. (Copyright image, 2019.)

This, too, requires care because of any vehicles in the same lane, behind yours. If you brake quickly then you might trigger being hit from behind. This is why it is so important to always leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle ahead. In turn, this makes it easier for you to see further ahead, see the static vehicle/s sooner, and plan your own actions sooner, without rush or panic.

Any emergency, recovery, or road maintenance vehicle with its lights flashing must be treated in this manner, but a good driver will do the same for any static vehicle, such as a broken down car.

One of the most dangerous scenarios when passing static vehicles.   (Copyright photo, 2014.)

So please remember, unless circumstances genuinely prevent it, the safest sequence is:

  • Make sure you maintain a good view ahead at all times by always maintaining a safe following distance;
  • Whenever you see a static vehicle, check immediately to see whether the adjacent lane is clear, then signal when it is safe to do so, in that order (so that you don’t frighten another driver potentially into swerving away from you);
  • Change lanes when safe to do so, preferably without slowing down first and thereby increasing danger from behind;
  • If you cannot safely change lanes to put an empty lane between your car and the static vehicle/s then you must slow down as described above.
  • Watch very carefully indeed for any pedestrian activity near the static vehicle/s because there are occasions when someone might unexpectedly step into what is now hopefully the empty lane, and it is our responsibility as drivers to keep those people as safe as we possibly can;
  • Be particularly careful in the dark or during bad weather when visibility or tire-grip might be affected.
A state trooper almost invisible on the roadside as he conducts a traffic stop at night.
At night or in bad weather, the ‘move over law’ is even more critical, when officers or vehicle operators can be extremely difficult to see, especially when the flashing lights are so bright that they dazzle! Move over safely and in plenty of time, before you get anywhere near. (Copyright image, 2017.)

On roads with only one lane in each direction, the normal ‘move over’ component is often not possible but if there is a good, safe view ahead and it is legal to do so, a good driver will create space by at least partially crossing the central, dotted yellow line to keep away from a static emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. Whether or not that can be done, it is more than ever essential to slow down significantly under these circumstances.

At Advanced Drivers of North America, the ‘Move Over Laws’ and ‘Safe Following Distances’ are just two of over 300 important safety techniques we teach on our unmatched defensive- and advanced-driving courses. For more information, please Contact Us.

__________

Please be aware that this website is registered with the United States Copyright Office and that punitive legal action for damages may be taken against anyone who breaches our copyright. This, however, does not stop you from posting links to any of our pages, and you are welcome to do so.