Highway to the danger zone

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I don’t know if it’s the commonly accepted norm or the busy culture of Utah, or if it’s something in the air, but I’ve noticed that Utah drivers are awful.

After a little bit of research, I found Utah is near the top of some of the “safest drivers” lists. I don’t know how or why that is. Maybe it credits the functionality of the roads and highways. Yet, from my experience, we are some of the worst.

I have lived here for nearly four years, so I have had adequate experience with local drivers. If what I point out is something you do, then change. Become a safer driver. If you’re just agreeing and not doing what I’m singling out, thank you.

I’m from Washington state, where the drivers are immensely more courteous and safer—at least from what I see. It’s a night and day difference. No one is in a rush to get from point A to point B. They obey the speed limit. It’s a less stressful environment than Utah County roads.

My biggest pet peeve is when drivers run obvious yellow lights and even more obvious red ones. My wife and I even yell, “UTAH!” as a joke when we witness this dangerous practice. Not only is it not a safe habit, but it also congests the traffic in those busy hours.

I took a few trips up to Salt Lake City in the last couple weeks. Usually I’m comfortable going 70 mph in the 65 mph speed limit. What perplexes me is the countless cars zooming past me, even when I am already breaking the limit myself.

As long as we are talking about traffic, let’s talk about bumper to bumper. In strongly congested rush hour traffic, it’s almost unavoidable. But I see it in the middle of the night where all five lanes are open. Here’s a tip: if I’m not going your preferred speed, then go around me. I can’t tell you how many break-checks I’ve been tempted to do and have done.

I feel stupid pointing out this Driver’s Ed fundamental, but it’s equally as stupid when I see someone not using a blinker. Safe driving means good communication. In order for us fellow drivers to know what others are about to do, it’s essential to show it through the flip of the blinker.

Recently, there has been a massive push to keep cell phones away from the hands of drivers but I see people using them day-in and day-out. Talking on your cell phone is a secondary offense, meaning police can’t pull you over for just that, but texting or looking at your cell phone is a primary offense that carries a hefty $750 fine and possible jail time. Being distracted with your little, bright screen has been compared to being intoxicated with a .08 alcohol level.

The next issue is the way of entering and exiting a roundabout. Seriously, if you don’t know how to do it, stop pretending. Get online or get your little sibling’s Drivers Ed textbook and look it up. Yield is the magic word here.

One of my worst fears is being in a car crash. It’s not necessarily the body injury that makes me afraid—although that’s certainly on my mind—but it’s the insurance fiasco and hoop jumping that comes after the wreck. No one needs that stress.

I’m not writing this to bash just Utah drivers. Perhaps I notice more because I’m not from here. It’s the fish in the water analogy; fish don’t know they’re wet because the water is all around them all of their lives. Best to have it pointed out rather than live with the risk ignorantly.

Know the laws. Be safe. And don’t be in such a rush. Being late isn’t worth your life or anyone else’s.