Slow down, buddy. Back off that guy's bumper.

Don't weave in and out of traffic like that. Let that woman change lanes in front of you. And whatever you do, don't make rude hand gestures at anyone.If you won't behave yourself on the road as a courtesy to yourself and the rest of the human road race, perhaps you'll listen to your:

a. mother.

b. spouse.

c. elected public officials.

If you chose "c," then you're about to change your aggressive driving and road-rage habits because Salt Lake County officials have launched a "friendly" assault on disrespectful, discourteous and dangerous motorists.

Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi and mayors from five Salt Lake Valley cities and the town of Alta gathered Thursday to join the Utah Safety Council's "Drive Friendly" campaign.

The Salt Lake County Council of Governments will combine forces with the safety council in an effort to persuade drivers to take the pedal off the metal, kick back, relax and enjoy the ride.

"Maybe we're going to have to talk to ourselves a little bit to help calm ourselves down," West Valley City Mayor Gearld Wright suggested Thursday during a press conference at the Redwood Road campus of Salt Lake Community College.

What has many people so edgy, and forgetting their manners, is the massive amount of road construction going on in the valley. From I-15 reconstruction to the new Bangerter Highway interchange to valleywide installation of traffic-management equipment to the light-rail mass transit project, motorists can't go far without seeing orange. That often makes them see red.

"You have no idea how stupid some people can be . . . cursing and spitting at a police officer," said Alta Mayor Bill Levitt, referring to how some skiers respond when Little Cottonwood Canyon is closed. "Stay friendly. If you have to be stopped for a while, it's for your own benefit, your own safety."

No one has seen the impact like South Salt Lake. A major freeway detour route passes through the city, and Mayor Randy Fitts acknowledges both road construction and road rage have contributed to the city's rising accident rate.

"A lot of these (accidents) could be prevented by just taking an extra few minutes" and leaving the house or office early, Fitts said.

And if that doesn't convince you, how about this reminder from Horiuchi:

"We have more police officers on the road than we have had in the history of America," Horiuchi said, adding that a $10 surcharge soon will be added to speeding fines in Salt Lake County, thanks to the 1998 Legislature.

As participants in the program, the county and cities will be distributing Drive Friendly stickers and pamphlets with tips on how to be more courteous on the road.

But it's not just a matter of politeness.

In 1997, 367 people were killed on Utah roadways, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates behavior associated with aggressive driving plays a role in about one-third of all automobile accidents.

The campaign encourages residents to make personal commitments to practice safe and cour-teous driving, and to help others do the same.