*Disclaimer: this is meant to be a satirical guide to navigating the streets and highways of Salt Lake City, Utah. I love to drive and have found myself driving along various roads that wrap around islands, criss-cross in front of trains, and cut through the desert. This post represents my feelings as a California driver, currently navigating my way though Salt Lake City’s erratic and perilous driving culture, while also trying to highlight some of the stark problems I face daily: passive and distracted drivers. Every single “tip” offered comes from first-hand experience and is to be read in jest.
As always, please follow the speed limits, laws, and have common sense while driving anywhere!*
So, you want to visit Salt Lake City, do ya? You’ve got your plane ticket purchased, your rental car reserved, your Citymaps app downloaded with several points of interest saved…you’re raring to go! Before you jump behind the wheel of your rented Toyota crossover with California plates, I offer you this guide to help guide you through the Beehive State, because hey! This ain’t New York, kid: you’re in Utah now…
#1 – Always over-hesitate at the STOP sign. Even if you get to the STOP sign before the truck to your right, hesitate to see if he’s going to go first. You probably have the right-of-way since you arrived at the 4-way STOP first, but it’s best to wait and see what the truck is going to do. Plus, it’s kind of fun to release the brake at the same time as him, only to have both of you pumping your breaks simultaneously. It’s like a guessing game to see who is going to actually commit and fully enter the intersection first.
#2 – Go ahead and run the red lights. Even if you’re turning left and are 3 cars back when the light changes from yellow to red. As long as the car ahead of you is still moving, you’ll be able to make it through the intersection. People will wait for you, even though they’ve had a green light for 3 seconds already.
#3 – No need to yield while merging. While trying to change lanes on the surface streets, it’s advisable to either leave your turn signal on for 30 seconds, or not at all, before cutting off the person next to you. And when merging onto the freeway, it’s probably not the best idea to match the other cars’ speed. It’s good if everyone just slows down a bit, especially the big trucks that always love to slam on their brakes.
#4 – The Fast Lane of the highway is a good place to go slow. There’s a thing in Utah called being a left-lane loafer and it has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? If people are speeding in the fast lane, it is up to you to slow them down. Head over and just cruise 1-2mph under the speed limit so they get the message. Believe me: they’ll say “thank you” with their horns! Remember, the police can’t be everywhere, so it’s up to you to make sure everyone else is going the speed limit, no matter what.
#5 – No need to use your turn signal. It’s really nobody’s business where you’re going.
#6 – Tailing the person in front of you is encouraged, this way they know you’re there. And when the person in front of you switches lanes, it’s not to let you pass; rather, it’s a game of follow-the-leader. Get right back behind them, no matter what. They might adjust their speed to see if you’re committed to following them.
#7 – Being on your cell phone and texting is only illegal if you get caught. Trust me, everyone that you pass will believe that you’re smiling, laughing, and talking to your crotch. You have things to do and your friends just can’t wait to hear from you!
#8 – When exiting a parking lot, pull halfway out of the driveway and stop. You’re only doing it right if people have to go around you. The further you pull out of the driveway, the more time people have to move over and let you decide how long you want to be prairie-dogging it.
#9 – Get offended when people honk at you. Even though most drivers in other parts of the country and world use horns for a variety of reasons, that just isn’t how we do things in Utah. Sure, in California I might use a horn for communicating to other drivers, but it Utah it’s just plain rude. Who knows why they even put horns on the steering wheel?!
#10 – Gridlock sounds like a big deal, but it really isn’t. I mean, if your light was green and you made it into the intersection, it’s not really your fault if you get stuck and your light turns red. Just ignore the person next to you, waving their arms and gesturing madly. They just don’t get it: they can go around you. Even when the light-rail train is coming towards you, it’ll stop. Don’t worry.
#11 – And above all else, have fun. Race your neighbor. Cut them off, get road rage, and shake your fist.
As mentioned above, this is a satirical guide to navigating the often perilous streets of Salt Lake City, Utah. In no way should this guide be taken seriously, other than to outline many of the crazy drivers I see every day.
I am from Los Angeles, and consequently have to deal with the stereotypes that plague Southern California drivers. We are aggressive, yes, but only because everyone else is and we don’t want anyone to hit our cars. In my experience, passive driving leads to increased tickets, accidents, and road-rage.
If you are visiting Salt Lake City, read this guide lightly. Every city has their own stereotypical drivers, and not all drivers are created equal. Not all Utahns are poor, passive, or distracted drivers, and not all Californians are auditioning to be in The Fast and The Furious franchise.
As always, please follow the laws of the road and be aware of your surroundings.