Tom Smart, Deseret News
Troopers Mike Bennett, left, and Brad Clayton travel with driver Chad Lund as the Utah Highway Patrol spots violators for the Ticketing Aggressive Cars & Trucks enforcement period kickoff Monday, April 25, 2011, in Murray.

MURRAY — The trailer is hard to miss. In big, bold letters it advertises the Utah Highway Patrol’s Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks campaign.

But that did not stop motorists Monday from cutting in front of, following too closely to or improperly merging around the big rig, which had two troopers inside. The troopers radioed their colleagues in smaller vehicles who pulled the drivers over.

The semitrailer, donated by CR England, is one of two rigs the UHP is using as part of its campaign. Pride has donated the other truck, which is pulling an unmarked trailer. Money for extra troopers comes from a federal grant.

“These trucks can’t stop as quickly as passenger cars,” said UHP Lt. Bruce Pollei. While he said aggressiveness is a factor for drivers of big rigs, too, Pollei said 60 percent of the crashes involving cars and semis are the fault of the driver of the car.

“So if we can reach out to these people, educate them and help them as they operate around commercial vehicles, maybe we can help reduce some of those crashes,” he said.

It took only seconds for troopers to spot their first target as the truck entered the freeway Monday at I-15 and 5300 South. It was a small four-door sedan that changed lanes within 5 feet of the truck’s front bumper. The driver received a warning and a pamphlet explaining the program.  

“A lot of the (semi) drivers are driving defensively. They’re giving themselves a proper following distance for the drivers in front of them, then you go cut in front of that driver and you’ve taken up all of his following distance,” Pollei said.  

The lieutenant noted they’re also looking for people who follow too closely, or who merge onto the freeway improperly.

“The vehicle merging on needs to yield to the traffic that’s already on the freeway, “ Pollei said.

Monday’s enforcement effort is one of at least two planned for I-15 between Sandy and Salt Lake City over the next several weeks.

Truck smart tips

• Before pulling in front of a semitrailer, allow one car length for every 10 miles per hour of travel.

• A semitrailer does not drive like a car. It can take over 500 feet for a fully loaded truck going 65 mph to come to a complete stop.

• The semitrailer driver has blind spots in front of the cab, on both sides of the rig and the rear of the trailer.

• If you're driving behind a semitrailer and can see the truck's side mirrors on both sides, you are at a safe distance behind it.

Source: TACT Utah