Any Tooele County commuter can tell you state Route 36 is very busy.
In the morning and evening rush hour time, it seems like the question is not “Will there be an accident?” but “Where and when will today’s accident be?”
In last week’s story “High number of crashes on SR-36,” Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Cody McCoy said he didn’t have the exact number of crashes on SR-36 so far this year but “there have been a lot.”
Failing to yield, especially to those turning left, and distracted driving — think cell phones, texting, or plain just not paying attention — seem to be the major contributors to accidents, according to McCoy.
Nationally, five behaviors contribute to 94% of all crashes, according to the Utah Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety. They are: distracted driving, aggressive driving — which includes driving too fast, drowsy driving, impaired driving — including prescription drugs, and not wearing seat belts.
Earlier this year the two agencies announced a new safety campaign aimed at the little lies we tell ourselves to justify bad driving behavior; “It’s just one text,” “I can multi-task,” “I’m late for work so it’s O.K. to speed,” “I can get through the intersection before that car gets here,”or “I’m not too tired to drive.”
We need to stop lying to ourselves and justifying our bad behaviors. Likewise, we should be careful of over confidence.
We all want to get where we need to go, both safely and on time. Few people would argue that our roads are not busy and we need wider roads, more roads, new routes, or alternate forms of transportation.
The investment in infrastructure would hopefully bring lower accidents. It’s mathematics, less vehicles on a road, less accidents.
I can’t build a road by myself, although my tax bill at times makes me think I am. But I, and you, can drive a little safer. Make a conscious effort to slow down, follow the rules of the road, maybe even be kind to fellow drivers.
By making an effort, we can reduce the number of accidents and increase the efficiency of our roads. If we don’t have to stop for what feels like a daily accident, we’ll get where we want to go and on time.
A few years ago I commuted to work everyday to an office near the University of Utah campus. At times I had 7 a.m. meetings once a week. When it was snowing I would get up and leave two hours early for the usual 40 minute drive. I never knew what the roads would be like, but trudging along at 30 mph instead of 60 mph, I could get where I needed to go, on time. I also didn’t have to get all worked up watching the minutes pass away on the clock.
One snowy morning my boss looked out at the meeting room and saw just a handful of us there.
“Why is it that on a snowy morning the first people here are always the ones that have to travel the farthest?” he asked rhetorically.
Let’s change our habits and drive safer so next year Lt. McCoy can say we’ve had fewer accidents.