There was no emergency, no crime. The police were there to purposely slow down traffic while the construction crews finished collecting the orange bells and reflective speed limit signs.
While many daily UVU commuters might rejoice at the completion of the roadwork on I-15, those who were there to witness the cleaning felt either disgruntled or alarmed, as the rapidly slowed traffic nearly caused accidents. Brakes screeched and horns blared as drivers attempted to avoid rear-ending those in front of them.
“Those people were following too close,” said Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol.
Johnson said the people who had close calls that night were doing two things wrong, “driving too fast and following too close.”
Drivers like that necessitated the forced traffic jam in the first place, Johnson explained.
“We’ve also got to think of the construction workers,” he said, describing the danger that the last of the construction workers were in that night. “We’re wrapping up the construction … One or more cruisers will slow traffic so the construction workers can safely do their work.”
Though no one was hurt that night, the abrupt slowing of traffic could have potentially caused accidents. At the time, drivers wondered if that were really the best way to keep everyone safe.
“If you’ve got a better way, please, let me know,” Johnson said. “We can park our cars on the sides and wave our arms,” he said, adding that the method employed was far more effective, even if dangerous.
Drivers who had to slam on their brakes may have been driving too fast, following too close or not paying enough attention, but police may have expected and accommodated for it. Instead, most felt that the night the construction ended was nerve-racking rather than a cause for celebration.