"I'll come driving, I'll come driving fast as wheels can turn . . . " - from "Driving" by Everything But The Girl.
Now that the Thanksgiving holiday season is over, cautious drivers throughout the state and county are dreading the influx of Christmas holiday shopping traffic - and with good reason.The additional post-work and weekend traffic on the highways and city streets serve as a stern warning to most of us regular commuters: When you drive in Utah, you take your life in your hands.
Gone are the days when Utah drivers could blame most traffic accidents and jams on out-of-state drivers, especially those from either Idaho or California. Realistically, drivers from those two states are no worse than any out-of-staters. Instead, I'm convinced the biggest menaces on the roads are my fellow Utahns.
Maybe we should adapt some of our more colorful nicknames for driving tomfoolery to fit the most common offenders. For example, the "rolling stop" - slowly creeping through a stop sign or red light while turning right - is referred to as a "California stop" in Utah. If any moniker for such a maneuver should be used here, it should be the "Payson stop," since my fellow residents have made this reckless driving habit a new art form.
Having driven mostly in three counties - Crash, er Cache (home of my beloved alma mater Utah State University), Salt Lake and Utah - has given me a pretty broad perspective on the different types of driving behavior exhibited by these accidents-in-waiting, especially in the latter county, which I consider to have the most egregious violations of driving etiquette.
The following is a brief list of some of the characters you might encounter while driving in the state and their common driving habits:
1. The Little Old Lady From (you name it), who drives well under (sometimes as much as half) the posted speed limit and refuses to give others access for safe passage.
2. The Bat Out of Helper, who drives well over (sometimes as much as twice) the posted speed limit and clings perilously to others' bumpers in the hopes of forcing them out of the way.
3. Swervin' Mervin, whose objective is to drive in as many lanes as possible.
4. Changin' Lane, Mervin's cousin, who can't stay in one lane for longer than 90 seconds.
5. Pedal Pusher, who can't drive the same speed for longer than 90-second periods.
On an even larger scale, though, are some of the afflictions from which Utah drivers seem to suffer - maladies like "Utahnitis," which involves flooring the accelerator at the sign of a yellow light; "signal paralysis," which has drivers either not employing their turn signals or leaving them on for long periods of time as a testament to their lane-changing dedication.
Avoid those five menaces and the two diseases at all costs. But keep in mind that we all have some of these traits within us, even if they manifest themselves more strongly than others. We must forgive them for their weaknesses, even while wishing you had an Army surplus half-track vehicle equipped with a snow shovel to push them all off the road.
Most of all, though, consider such behavior as a strong incentive for future Utah Transit Authority service throughout the valley - then the bus drivers can fend off such unwarranted driving disturbances, and we can all catch a few winks.