Utah Drivers

I don’t think anybody complains about Utah drivers more than Utah drivers themselves. Which leads me to wonder… what the heck is so bad about Utah drivers anyway?

Somebody (yes, it was you Neal) once told me that being a Utah driver was more a state of mind rather than the state (as in State of the Union) you drive in. That being the case, what exactly is a Utah driver?

Some might say that a Utah driver is just a bad driver. If that’s the case, how did Utah get the bad rap? Why not “New Jersey driver” or “Idaho farmer driver”?

On my way in to work today, the roads were a bit slick thanks to the rain. Coming down 1600 North, I witnessed a near rear ending. I looked over at my wife and said, “That’s why I don’t tailgate.” Well, I don’t tailgate (most of the time at any rate). If you’re doing 20 mph in a 35 zone, then yeah, I’m going to tailgate you. But if the roads are wet, then I won’t tailgate even under those harrowingly extreme circumstances.

That got me thinking. Does that make him a “California driver” because he was tailgating? If that’s the case, then there were about 10 California drivers because nearly the whole column was tailgating.

But since tailgating is a form of bad driving, does that actually make them Utah drivers because they are practicing bad technique, even though Californians are notorious for tailgating?

According to my good friend Randy, Alabama drivers are horrible drivers. Why can’t bad drivers be Alabama drivers?

Though in my experience, I’d say the number of bad drivers is a pretty small percentage. Sure there are lots of drivers with bad habits (I tend to be a stickler for rules, and so I notice these bad habits more than most people do), but honestly, how many drivers do you encounter each day that do something that makes you mumble under your breath, “Those stupid Utah drivers!”

Maybe 1 in 100? Think about how many other drivers you encounter each day. It could be several hundred. Statiscally, no matter where you are in the nation, you’re bound to encounter a bad driver in a day’s work. And if you’re on the road everyday, well you’re probably going to run into 7 bad drivers a week then aren’t you?

Maybe we Utahns consider our fellow Utahns to be bad drivers simply because whenever we encounter a bad driver, it just so happens to be in Utah. Go figure huh? I mean, being that this is where we live, work, and play, what are the odds of running into a bad driver that is also from Utah? Astronomical I’m sure.

But the next time we complain about “Utah drivers” and how horrible they are, maybe we should look in the mirror and remind ourselves that we need to make a greater effort to be a better driver ourselves. After all, we are part of what makes a “Utah driver”. And if we’re not part of the solution… well, you know.

9 thoughts on “Utah Drivers

  1. Captain Kid

    I don’t know about Utah as a whole, but I do think that Lehi has a higher capacity of bad drivers then most cities. I know I drive through Lehi everyday, but still… Is a round about really that hard to figure out? Sheesh! I see cars stopping INSIDE the round about at least 3-4 times a week.

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  2. Former Utah Inhabitant

    I lived in Utah for quite a few years after driving in both Arizona and California for years. Since then I have driven extensively in Colorado and witnessed New York Driving.

    My greatest example to define a Utah driver is to use the scenario that I’ve seen many times. It is when one lane of traffic is closing about a mile ahead and the signs are telling drivers to merge. In Colorado or Arizona the majority of drivers merge to the correct lane and slow down and wait their turn. Every once in a while a car whips by in the closing lane. You mutter under your breath, “jerk” and continue to wait.

    In the same circumstance in Utah a large portion of drivers stay in the closing lane to merge as far ahead as possible. As you sit waiting patiently in th continuing lane a deluge of cars continue whipping past you in the merging lane. You start by whispering under your breath “jerk” everytime a car passes, but after a while you start muttering, “this isn’t fair, why can’t I be a jerk too, why do all of them get to be jerks and I don’t, I should get to go too and not have to wait here, who cares about all these people in line anyway”. You then go into the merging lane and follow everyone else as they fight to get in front of as many other cars as possible.

    Utah doesn’t necessarily have worse driving styles as the original author spoke of, the sheer amplitude of bad drivers and the distain carelessness that they show for everyone else is what makes Utah drivers get the bad rap. Like I said there are plenty of bad drivers in Arizona and Colorado who only think of themselves and cut everyone else off, we call them jerks and continue to be courteous drivers. In Utah everyone jumps on the band wagon of being a jerky driver and so there are just a whole lot more of them.

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  3. Stu

    Here’s something that I don’t understand. The lane is open, so why not use it? I’m a jerk for using an open lane that nobody else is using just because it closes in half a mile?

    I think it’s just silly not to use it right up until it closes. It’s a legitimate lane, it’s open, let’s use it people!

    Thanks for your contribution. My father learned to drive in California and spent several years there. We left California when I was just 2 years old. But boy let me tell you, if you ever want to hear a tirade about Utah drivers, just ask my dad about them :)

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  4. Joe Schmoe

    I have driven in many states and in none of them have I felt my life was in danger moreso than in Utah, especially in the Salt Lake area. Drivers constantly tailgate, cut you off, speed in excess of 20 MPH over the speed limit and have absolutely no common courtesy. If you leave a safe amount of following room there are instantly three cars cramming in that space. If you – God Forbid – drive the speed limit, you get passed on both sides.

    And YES you are a jerk for driving up to the front to merge when a lane is closed because hundreds of other people followed the directions of the signs to merge and wait their turn while you jump to the front of the line.

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  5. Stu

    Haha!! Well, if using an open lane is being a jerk, then at least I’m a jerk that’s smarter than everybody else.

    Just imagine how much less the road would be backed up if everybody used the open lane. I may be a jerk now, but history will redeem me as a pioneer! ;)

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  6. smarterthanu

    ‘former utah inhabitant’ says it all too well. utah drivers are the worst drivers i have ever seen. while its arguable that its ok to ride the closing left lane until the end, it is generally frowned upon as the person who would eventually let you in is someone who waited their turn to get to that point in the line of traffic. you should essentially start to merge right when you see that traffic is lining up in the continuing lane. yes, you are a jerk if you expect to be let in line after following the ending lane all the way to the end. are you in such a hurry that you cant get in line when you had the chance half a mile before? its similar to the jackasses who want to ride everyones bumper in a traffic jam on the highway.

    i recently was in a highway jam and there was no reason for it besides the fact that people wanted to go faster than what was possible for the number of cars on the highway. if everyone on the highway would have gone a steady speed no one would have had to play the stop and go game. in a situation like that i let the car ahead of me space out about 5-10 car lengths as i stay a steady speed say 10-20 mph, and while the car in front of me plays stop and go games i will stay a steady speed and the space between us adjusts accordingly, but i never had to completely stop. and so if the people behind me stay at a similar speed they too will never have to stop coasting. now what ruins this flow is the jack ass who wants to speed up to 25-30 mph and reach the bumper of the car in front of him and stop, and then when theres 5 feet of space he will do it again, and again and again and again. essentially what causes the traffic jam in the first place are these jackasses who want to go faster than what the traffic can allow at the time and the cars end up backing up to a stop completely instead of just slowing down. stop and go driving is the worst type of driving on your car.

    what killed me about this particular traffic jam was that i had a person behind me who was mad and honking their horn because i would not speed up to the bumper of the car in front of me when there was about a 10 car space. this is exactly the type of idiot indicative to utah, with no where to go, miles of cars ahead of us, and still cant handle having a gap to the next car ahead. stupid ignorant mindless LDS utah drivers!

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  7. Stu

    1. Nope, I’m not in so much of a hurry that I can’t be like everybody else and not use a lane that is wide open. I just choose to use the open lane because, well, it’s open. Has to do with logic, not the amount of time on my hands.

    2. Actually, what causes traffic jams is more cars than the road can handle. Riding bumpers and “accordion” style driving neither gets you to your destination faster or slower. It’s just hard on the car. Everybody driving at a steady, slow pace doesn’t relieve a traffic jam, only stop and go traffic.

    3. I am LDS and a Utahn, and neither have anything to do with whether I’m “ignorant” or not. Does not being LDS or not being a Utahn automatically make you a better driver?

    As long as we’re talking about LDS drivers, Joe Schmoe stated that SLC is particularly bad, the city with the lowest concentration of Mormons in Utah. It’s almost 50/50 up there.

    4. My wife use to do transcription work for auto insurance companies. Believe me, bad drivers live everywhere. And I mean REALLY bad. You would not believe some of the stories I’ve heard.

    5. Just remember that when you trash Utah drivers, you are included in that bunch. Because, like I said, if you are in Utah and you are driving, you are a Utah driver. Oh, but you are better than other Utah drivers? That’s what all the other Utah drivers say.

    Which brings me back to the original point of the post: to point out (in what I thought was a light-hearted manner) that it is typically other Utah drivers that complain about Utah drivers. I found an irony in it. Most people that have responded to this post in the last 2 and a half years apparently have not.

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