review of utah drivers

June 2, 2007

I keep hearing about “Utah drivers” and how bad they are. You know what’s funny? Everybody who tells me about the lousy Utah drivers are, surprise surprise, Utah drivers (imported or not). Crazy how that works.

It’s like saying that people are stupid. Of course, when you say people are stupid, you mean OTHER people, THOSE people, not you. You’re quite obviously intelligent, good looking, and an excellent driver. And, of course, you never fart.

You know, think about it for a sec. How many drivers are there, say, along the I-15 corridor of the Wasatch front, an area roughly 50 miles long and by far the most populous area in Utah (admittedly not saying much)? Let’s say 1,000,000. Just for fun.

Okay then, now let’s say you, dear reader (renowned far and wide as an outstanding driver), are not perfect. Let’s say you make an average of ONE driving error per month. One time per month, you get distracted by the box of Krispy Kremes on your lap; once per month you stay in the left lane for a little too long when you want to exit and have to cross a few lanes of traffic; ONCE in a month, you are in a hurry because you got distracted by your spouse as you were leaving the house in the morning, and you’re late for an important meeting, and you spend the entire commute running yellow lights and weaving in and out of traffic and crossing the double white line barring you from the carpool lane in order to save yourself something like 45 seconds.

Well, if there are a million of us here, and each of us makes ONE mistake a month, how many driving errors does that make? Lots, right? Okay? Do we agree? Lots? Enough maybe to account for the stupid drivers we see every day?

Anyway. I grew up in Minneapolis, a decent sized city. I’ve driven quite a bit in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and Miami. Hell, I’ve even driven in London, Paris, Rome, and Munich.

I’m here to tell you—just like people everywhere are a little bit dumb (yup, you and me included), people everywhere are often sucky drivers. No matter where you go, people reserve their right to be rude, arrogant, assholes. Pretty much all over the world. L.A. New York. And yes, Utah.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, there are a few particularly egregious errors frequently seen on the roadways that really get under my skin. This isn’t any kid of comprehensive list, that would take more than the fifteen minutes I’ve got to write this post. But these are the ones on my mind today.

Mind you, I’m not saying I never commit these sins. I’m just saying they get under my skin. They make me yell loudly into my cell phone, or mistype the message I’m keying into my Blackberry. That kind of egregious.

The Enforcer

Top of my list is the guy who thinks he’s enforcing the law and making everybody safer by driving at or below the speed limit in the left lane. Not to be confused with the recent immigrant or grandmother who has no idea what lane they’re in, much less how fast they are driving.

The Enforcer is a misguided vigilante who, in a bit of irony completely lost on him, I’m sure, actually makes the road much more dangerous by forcing everyone to slam on the brakes and careen around him to avoid entering his trunk or truck bed.

Who does this? Do you know anybody who does this? Do you let them get away with it? STOP THE MADNESS!

Egregiousness Level—10

Punishment—Absolute and Permanent Removal of Driving Privileges. And maybe death.

The Blocker

Locals call this the Utah Road Block. You know what’s funny? In Minnesota they called it the Minnesota Road Block. In Italy, they call it “el due cupula grande de la catedral.”

But the upshot is, you’ve got two lanes, and two cars side by side, driving slower than you want to drive. Aggravating.

Egregiousness Level—8

Punishment—Car dies on side of road for 20 minutes, no radio, no cell phone coverage

The No Signaler

Really, this doesn’t bother me so much. I’m going to give these guys a pass. What does bother me, though, is . . .

The Leave Signal On (er)

I hate this. Well, hate is too strong a word. I’m annoyed by this. I would be much more annoyed by this, if I hadn’t discovered this morning that I had left my right blinker on for the entire 20 mile freeway drive in to work. My bad. Sorry red Toyota Truck who flipped me off.

Egregiousness Level—um, 2?

Punishment—some mild embarrassment

The Won’t Let Anybody In (er)

There are assholes everywhere, even in the grocery store line. But there’s something about riding in a one ton steel cage that inspires confidence, even belligerence. Reminds me of hearts, the card game. You have the King or Ace of Spades, someone is smoking, you have limited protection, so you sweat bullets for a trick or two, but once you’ve dropped that Ace or King, you’re the next one smoking for the Queen.

It’s like Kennedy said—Ich bin ein asshole. Or, we are all Berliners. Or something.

I don’t ever do this, by the way. Unless you were blocking me earlier. Then I hunt you down like the dickweed dog you are, and keep you from merging.

Of course the flip side of this is the “what would jesus do” weenie who lets EVERYBODY in. Not as bad, but close.

Egregiousness Level—7

Punishment—Nobody will let you in, and you either have to stay on the freeway until you run out of gas, or drive on the shoulder all the way to your exit.

Of course, I’ve just scraped the surface, but I’m out of time, so I’m stopping. I’ve left off “the weaver,” the “stop 10 feet short of the stop sign/stop light er,” the “drive at address hunting speed, but don’t pull over er,” the “zoom around in traffic in order to totally tailgate the semi in front of me er.” And on and on.

Not that you or I have ever done any of this. At least not in Utah.

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