Friday, April 29, 2011

An Open Letter to Utah Drivers

This is a letter I wrote to the UHP:

Dear Utah Highway Patrol,

I am writing to express my displeasure with the drivers in Utah. I know this is a generalization and not all Utah drivers are like this but I have spent 30+ years driving in Utah and I have detected a pattern.

This morning two incidences on my 5 mile trip to work again reminded me of this pattern. The first involves getting on the freeway. I was behind several cars entering the freeway at 40 mph. I signed left to enter and sped up. The middle lane was clear for a while and no one was in the left lane. The driver in the right lane sped up to try and prevent me from entering (he or she was at least 3 car lengths away from me). When they got up to me they hit their horn. They could have easily moved left to avoid the whole mess.

The second incident involved merging from one freeway to another. The car ahead of me was in the far left lane. He or she was travelling in the left lane for about a mile. I was behind them in order to pass another car in the middle lane. I had to merge right after I passed the car ahead to get to the other freeway on ramp. I signaled. As I entered the center lane the car in front of me put on their signal and tried to merge right. I was less than a car length from them. They kept coming until they realized I wasn’t going to let them in and after I passed them they got behind me and put on their high beams.

Both of these incidences should not have happened if the other drivers were used to driving in traffic and could anticipate other car’s movements.

I call this “self-involved” driving. I believe the driver is only thinking about their needs on the road and either doesn’t see the other drivers, doesn’t consider them when moving from lane to lane or doesn’t care. They are where they are and they have a right to be there.

It is just common courtesy to try and make the flow of traffic as reasonable as possible for as many people as possible. We all have to share the road and we can do a lot to improve safety if we would just think about someone other than ourselves. With increased traffic in our area this will only get worse.

I find myself so frustrated by this “self-involved” driving that I take on the same attitude just so I can get where I am going. This is counter-productive and sometimes dangerous. I am also concerned it will be seen as “aggressive” driving, the target of a recent UHP campaign, when I am just trying to get away from poor driving habits.

I encourage UHP to put more emphasis into your “share the road” campaign with respect to other drivers. Train people to look out for others, anticipate their moves and work with them rather than against them. UHP should also have an enforcement campaign to ticket those drivers who make unsafe maneuvers in order to maintain their place or not yield the road. I think UHP was successful with this in part with the “move left” campaign for stopped patrol cars on the right side of the road.

UHP officers have a very dangerous and thankless job. I appreciate your work every day. I offer this insight to help, not to complain.

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