Letter to the Editor: This tough talk about lunatics in The Gorge will make you drive differently

Composite includes images by wildpixel and Carlos_bcn, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — How many people do you know who would admit to being a lousy driver? One in a hundred? I’m hard pressed to find one in a hundred who IS a good driver. Next time you’re out there, take a good look around. You’re surrounded by people who think they’re good drivers but haven’t a clue.

You’re already taking this personally, aren’t you? But, before you get all defensive and disagreeable, hear me out. I’m about to give you an indisputable example.

My business often takes me through the Virgin River Gorge driving Interstate 15. The Gorge, as it is referred to by those who travel I-15 between Las Vegas and Southern Utah regularly, is a busy place especially on weekends, accommodating about 25,000 vehicles a day including recreational vehicles, the big rigs and you name it. And, because it’s filled with mountain grades and perilous curves, it’s a dangerous place. That’s why the speed limit is 55 miles per hour from end to end.

I’m going to give this to you in plain talk. There’s something about The Gorge that brings out the lunatics. I’ve driven all over the world and have never seen such idiotic behavior and blatant disregard for the law. They come charging out of the desert from both ends at full throttle and, man, it’s get-out-of-my-way-or-die! Day or night, doesn’t matter. Even some of the truckers – the professionals who are supposed to know better – hurtle their 80,000-pound rigs through The Gorge at dangerously high speeds. Good drivers? You tell me.

Add to this the virtually perpetual roadwork. There are always bridges to be fixed and maintenance to be done. Sometimes the road goes to one lane in each direction and lane width is reduced to 10 feet. For good reason the speed limit is 45 mph. Go ahead. Try driving 45 and the dimwit behind you gets friendlier than your proctologist. Good driver? You tell me.

I watch them race past and wonder, “What’s wrong with these people? Do they not understand what’s going on here?”

Obviously not. They tailgate, pass on the wrong side and dangerously dodge from lane to lane and I’m guessing that half of those cars have kids in them. Sometimes I’m tempted to say, “Go for it, dummy!” but then I remember the kids.

Is getting to Cracker Barrel, Denny’s to the north or Mesquite to the south or wherever a few minutes sooner worth your life and possibly the lives of others? Is anything worth ending up dead at the bottom of The Gorge after an 80-foot plunge and maybe taking the family with you? You wouldn’t be the first to do that. Is getting there a little sooner worth turning you and your passengers into hamburger after colliding with the median or missing a curve because you’re driving too fast? Next time notice all those skid marks and the damage to the median walls and guardrails. They didn’t get there by themselves.

Here are a couple of fundamentals you apparently missed in drivers ed: The higher your speed, the more your fuel efficiency suffers (but then maybe money doesn’t matter to you); and the higher your speed,  the harder it is to scrape you off the windshield when you crash (but then maybe life doesn’t matter to you either).

When I was a lad my Dad taught my brothers and me to respect and obey traffic laws just like any others. Why? Because traffic laws have a purpose – to save our sorry butts from ourselves.

Still not convinced?

Stand at any signal-controlled intersection in town and watch people turning left. Half will not signal, one or two will usually go for it after the light changes and a couple will turn into the wrong lane. Good drivers? No. They’re lawbreakers.

Stand at any corner that has a stop sign. How many drivers do you see coming to a full stop? How many even know why they should stop? If they do stop, how many stop where they’re supposed to stop? How many people do you know who obey speed limits? How many tailgate? Good drivers? No. They’re lawbreakers.

The drivers in The Gorge know better, but they don’t care. The everyday tailgaters, speeders and stop-sign cheaters know better, but they don’t care. In 2016 40,000 of us died in crashes and nearly 4.5 million of us went to the hospital with serious injuries (National Safety Council figures). With a few simple attitude adjustments we could eliminate most of this carnage. I won’t be holding my breath.

By the way, Arizona put up warnings this year at each end of The Gorge to slow us down over a long holiday weekend. “Slower is better than dead!” read the signs. Did you slow down? I didn’t think so. I’m not telling you how to drive, my friend, I’m telling you how to stay alive.

Written by BOB SEARS, St. George | Email: boge007@msn.com.

Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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25 Comments

  • Bender December 5, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Drive right and pass left Bob. If you’re being passed on the right you ain’t “doin it right”. If drivers in the Gorge are the worst you’ve seen worldwide, I think you’ve not seen much of the world.

    • desertgirl December 5, 2017 at 11:23 am

      lol They are pretty bad. Been to Portugal? Kinda like that. Not comparing and probably either is the writer, third world countries. You sound like one of those drivers rationalize bad driving habits i.e. Too close to the car in front of you for sudden stop, driving too fast (excuses, excuses for that), sight seeing along the winding sections, eating, and drinking, and on and on.

      • Bender December 5, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        Don’t park in the left lane and block me desert girl and we’ll get along just fine.

    • sky2k1 December 5, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      I cam here to mention that if you are being passed on the right, you are also part of the problem in the left lane. Thanks for beating me to it.

    • brianhead191 December 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Your argument is flawed because it’s based on emotion and not fact.

      Fact: German’s Autobahn network has no speed limit on over 60% of their roads. Their death rate per 1000 is half of what ours is.

      Why is this? Because to be a driver over there, you spend 2 years and $2000 on Driver’s Training. They actually value and understand how to drive. And it is statistically proven, that when driving over 80 MPH (131 Km/h), you are most attentive on the road.

      Fact: Montana up until 1999, had no speed limits on their Interstate Motorways. When Congress that year threatened to pull highway funding, they put speed limits in place. That following year, they had an increase of 111% in accidents.

      Here’s where I hope we can agree, and it’s been proven to work in Germany for over 7 decades (and it’s the law here, except the last one).

      Keeping right except to pass must be enforced.
      Slower traffic keep right.
      No passing to the right.
      Yield right to faster moving traffic.
      Semi’s should remain in the right lane.

      That will keep traffic moving freely, and you wouldn’t have people tailgating you. It’s pretty obvious that if people are tailgating you, they’re probably pissed because you yourself aren’t keeping and yielding right.
      Left lane pass only.

      And as far as people not signaling, texting, and making a complete stop, yeah that’s a problem too, but I’m sure you yourself are guilty as well.

      The bottom line is everyone (yourself included) needs to be trained better in basic driving, and don’t lecture me on speed limits and fuel consumption. Cars today are built for high speeds and fuel consumption has significantly improved over the decades like everything else. A 1.6 l diesel gets 60 mpg at highway speeds. And cars are a hell of a lot safer today than they were 15 years ago.

      The Gorge, like other places, at times can be bad, but it’s not terrible. I commute The Gorge twice a week and I on occasion see stupid drivers, and 9/10 it’s because they never yield right and impede 5 cars in front of me. And I never pass to the right because it’s unlawful.

      But if you really want to see improvement, it starts with yourself. It sounds like you’re a slow driver and camp out in the left lane, in which case you yourself are breaking the law and are impeding the flow and rate of traffic.

      If you want to see actual failure in driving skills and common sense solutions, look at California drivers. And if you truely feel like it’s really terribly bad, go on YouTube and look up Russian drivers and India too.

      • brianhead191 December 5, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        *I meant to write a comment under the article and to the columnist not to and under the Bender guy.

        Your is flawed because it’s based on emotion and not fact.
        Fact: German’s Autobahn network has no speed limit on over 60% of their roads. Their death rate per 1000 is half of what ours is.
        Why is this? Because to be a driver over there, you spend 2 years and $2000 on Driver’s Training. They actually value and understand how to drive. And it is statistically proven, that when driving over 80 MPH (131 Km/h), you are most attentive on the road.
        Fact: Montana up until 1999, had no speed limits on their Interstate Motorways. When Congress that year threatened to pull highway funding, they put speed limits in place. That following year, they had an increase of 111% in accidents.
        Here’s where I hope we can agree, and it’s been proven to work in Germany for over 7 decades (and it’s the law here, except the last one).
        Keeping right except to pass must be enforced.
        Slower traffic keep right.
        No passing to the right.
        Yield right to faster moving traffic.
        Semi’s should remain in the right lane.
        That will keep traffic moving freely, and you wouldn’t have people tailgating you. It’s pretty obvious that if people are tailgating you, they’re probably pissed because you yourself aren’t keeping and yielding right.
        Left lane pass only.
        And as far as people not signaling, texting, and making a complete stop, yeah that’s a problem too, but I’m sure you yourself are guilty as well.
        The bottom line is everyone (yourself included) needs to be trained better in basic driving, and don’t lecture me on speed limits and fuel consumption. Cars today are built for high speeds and fuel consumption has significantly improved over the decades like everything else. A 1.6 l diesel gets 60 mpg at highway speeds. And cars are a hell of a lot safer today than they were 15 years ago.
        The Gorge, like other places, at times can be bad, but it’s not terrible. I commute The Gorge twice a week and I on occasion see stupid drivers, and 9/10 it’s because they never yield right and impede 5 cars in front of me. And I never pass to the right because it’s unlawful.
        But if you really want to see improvement, it starts with yourself. It sounds like you’re a slow driver and camp out in the left lane, in which case you yourself are breaking the law and are impeding the flow and rate of traffic.
        If you want to see actual failure in driving skills and common sense solutions, look at California drivers. And if you truely feel like it’s really terribly bad, go on YouTube and look up Russian drivers and India too.

  • snowflake1 December 5, 2017 at 10:24 am

    “I’ve driven all over the world and have never seen such idiotic behavior and blatant disregard blah blah BS”. You haven’t driven 1-70 thru aspen to Denver. Or highway 50 thru Nevada. Or even California. ??? How about Beijing were worst yet Mexico City so please learn how to drive and quit complaining about everyone else!

    • desertgirl December 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Obviously you miss the point and need to argue. Bad drivers in the gorge………period.

  • mshaw December 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

    He is probably the guy driving slow in the left lane

  • Lastdays December 5, 2017 at 11:22 am

    The road through the Virgin River Gorge was built for 80 mph, get with it and pick the pace Bob

    • Badshitzoo December 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      I always remember all the LDS kids I knew growing up saying that “In the “Last Days” everyone would be walking back too Nauvoo.” for some reason? I always wondered where all the roads & cars were going to disappear to? I don’t I know a single person that could walk up to I-70 from here! Have you ever heard that Lastdays?

  • Whiz December 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Great letter Sir. Disregard the negative comments as they are from those who missed the lesson on respect for others. If drivers would just act like they care about the safety of others, & drive with courtesy, speed limits and traffic laws would be a moot point. I’m going to guess that despite what our state is associated with, our faith, that if you are driving it doesn’t count.

    • brianhead191 December 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Oh yeah, shield your eyes and don’t read what other people have to say, because obviously you’re a snowflake and can’t handle opposing views.

  • DoYourHomework December 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Safety destroys liberty. Look at aspects of society that are regulated in the name of safety. More agencies of the mother corporation UNITED STATES are created by organized chaos. TSA created for safer travel. How many terrorist have they caught since 2001? How many private parts have they touched to keep you safe? The point i. make is if you have moral foundation of forgive and love one would automatically respect others while traveling. When sociecty allows organized gangs to make the rules they dont have to follow this leads to controlled chaos which leads to unsafe behavior, follwers not lovers demand safety. More organized chaos gangs are created more liberty’s are regulated. Now we have a very safe society because the organizers make past liberties a code vioolation. Ask yourself where does my moral foundation sit? Do i want anarchist to tell me what safety means and regulate my way of life constantly? Forgive and love all who you encounter unless they injure you or property. even then forgive. them. dont rely on the organizers to keep regulating your life.

    • Bender December 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Ah, the libertarian loon checks in! Welcome sir.

  • mmsandie December 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I stopped going thru the gorge 6 yrs ago.. drivers go too fast.. 18 wheelers go downhill 80 mph. In order to lift the load up the hills putting everyone in danger.. watch out for rental trucks, triple trailers that sway..people moving that stuff the ca4 and can,t see out mirrors.. yes people pass on the right, leftanyway theycan.. how can they Patrol the gorge? They can’t pull yo7 over til Cedar pocket or the end.. every time there is an accident the gorge closes for hours or even a day.. slow down and live.

  • Who December 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I read an editorial years ago from a visitor to St. George. He remarked on the kindly, friendly, meek people that live here.

    Then he goes on to ask, what happens to them when they get behind the wheel? Their eyes go bloodshot and their nostrils flare and they turn into mad demons. (His words, not mine)

  • dogmatic December 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I get it Bob, but to be safe you need to go with traffic speed which is about 78 mph through the gorge. I hope your not creating a hazard just to be right.
    A group of cars including myself past a Arizona HP at cedar pocket all traveling 75 mph I thaught he would go after one of use but he didn’t. Maybe that’s the problem.

  • NickDanger December 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I’m a fairly aggressive driver. Driving has always come easily to me – 37 years of it and no at-fault accidents yet. It’s pretty standard for me to hit The Gorge at 80 and leave it at 90. It’s a fun drive. And I’m not your problem.

    Your problem is the same as it ever was – mouth-breathers squatting in the passing lane.

    I can solve that problem for you. All I need is the authority to revoke licenses. I’ll identify every awful person who treats the left lane like their personal driveway. Within a week they’ll be notified by mail that their license is revoked.

    They’ll also receive a bright pink sticker with the word “Moron” printed on it, which they’ll be required to affix to their vehicle once their one-year revocation is over. Cars with these stickers will no longer be allowed to use the passing lane AT ALL. They’ll just have to fall in behind the rest of the morons and hope for the best.

    Problem solved. You’re welcome.

    • ladybugavenger December 5, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      Get those left lane squatters!

    • Redbud December 6, 2017 at 2:59 am

      NickDanger, I think we’d make good drinking buddies, you pulled the words right out of my mouth. I speed through the Gorge too, and I make no apologies. You are ABSOLUTELY correct. Every time I drive through the gorge, which I do quite a bit, it’s the drivers in the left lane using it as their own personal lane. I actually TRY to be courteous. I approach their vehicle very slowly, so that when they hopefully glance in the rear view mirror, they see that someone wants to pass. I also take note if they themselves are passing a semi-truck, or another vehicle driving even more slowly than themselves. But if they just sort of hangout in the left lane for no reason, then I will start to ride on them a little bit. If that doesn’t work, then I pass them on the right and make NO apologies for doing so. If they are doing it on purpose, sometimes I give them the finger. The Asians that do it are usually tourists driving rental cars, and they are doing it out of ignorance I suppose, so I am nicer to them. The illegal Mexicans that do it, have lived in the US long enough to use something called common sense, and GET OVER into the right lane while their minivan is packed full of more passengers than there are seatbelts. The older white men that do it (I am white by the way) are usually liberals who feel they are serving some kind of justice by slowing everyone down behind them, because they can. These actually make me the angriest because they are supposed to be my “bros”, my brotherly crackers, and they deliberately try to trash our inherent good nature. If you are so scared to drive in the gorge, then get in the right lane, driver 55 or lower, and STAY there until you make it out the other side. Otherwise you can deal with the consequences for being STUPID and you DESERVE to get rear-ended or run off the road for your foolishness!

  • ladybugavenger December 5, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    This sounds like Bob (comments) Hi Bob!

  • brianhead191 December 5, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Your argument is flawed because it’s based on emotion and not fact.
    Fact: German’s Autobahn network has no speed limit on over 60% of their roads. Their death rate per 1000 is half of what ours is.
    Why is this? Because to be a driver over there, you spend 2 years and $2000 on Driver’s Training. They actually value and understand how to drive. And it is statistically proven, that when driving over 80 MPH (131 Km/h), you are most attentive on the road.
    Fact: Montana up until 1999, had no speed limits on their Interstate Motorways. When Congress that year threatened to pull highway funding, they put speed limits in place. That following year, they had an increase of 111% in accidents.
    Here’s where I hope we can agree, and it’s been proven to work in Germany for over 7 decades (and it’s the law here, except the last one).
    Keeping right except to pass must be enforced.
    Slower traffic keep right.
    No passing to the right.
    Yield right to faster moving traffic.
    Semi’s should remain in the right lane.
    That will keep traffic moving freely, and you wouldn’t have people tailgating you. It’s pretty obvious that if people are tailgating you, they’re probably pissed because you yourself aren’t keeping and yielding right.
    Left lane pass only.
    And as far as people not signaling, texting, and making a complete stop, yeah that’s a problem too, but I’m sure you yourself are guilty as well.
    The bottom line is everyone (yourself included) needs to be trained better in basic driving, and don’t lecture me on speed limits and fuel consumption. Cars today are built for high speeds and fuel consumption has significantly improved over the decades like everything else. A 1.6 l diesel gets 60 mpg at highway speeds. And cars are a hell of a lot safer today than they were 15 years ago.
    The Gorge, like other places, at times can be bad, but it’s not terrible. I commute The Gorge twice a week and I on occasion see stupid drivers, and 9/10 it’s because they never yield right and impede 5 cars in front of me. And I never pass to the right because it’s unlawful.
    But if you really want to see improvement, it starts with yourself. It sounds like you’re a slow driver and camp out in the left lane, in which case you yourself are breaking the law and are impeding the flow and rate of traffic.
    If you want to see actual failure in driving skills and common sense solutions, look at California drivers. And if you truely feel like it’s really terribly bad, go on YouTube and look up Russian drivers and India too.

  • old school December 5, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    That’s why you will never see a cop stupid enough to write citations in the gorge and EVERYBODY knows it. Photo cops (automated radar speed traps) are LEGAL in Arizona and they need to install a half dozen or so to slow all the inconsiderate maniacal psychopaths down! (myself included)

  • jaltair December 6, 2017 at 12:08 am

    I’ve loved the gorge since I first met it somewhere along my life. The first time I rode through the beauty of the rugged and many colored rock walls, I remember asking in excited tones, ” is this part of the Grand Canyon?”

    Maybe people need to slow down and notice the beauty of it all, or are we all hell-bent on getting nowhere fast? A link about this magnificent canyon for everyone to read: https://www.azdot.gov/mobile/media/blog/posts/2016/07/14/road-trip-the-i-15-virgin-river-corridor-is-a-hidden-engineering-marvel

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