Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time researching and writing about one of the issues that seems to be a main concern on most everyones minds in eastern Utah: U.S. 6.
That highway and it's travelers have certainly had their problems over the years, but slowly things are getting better as is shown by statistics concerning accidents actually leveling off as the use of that byway increases at a pretty hefty rate each year. This improvement is due to many factors, including highway redesign, safer cars and higher enforcement.
The lessons we have learned about the road over the mountain has also made many local drivers more cautious and more defensively minded when they travel the highway too.
In the past I have written little about Highway 10, that runs between Carbon and Emery Counties. Most of my emphasis has been on the canyon road. However, every time I have travelled that long, straight road, I swear I will write something because of what I see and experience. Yet until now my concentration has been only on one road.
No more. Not after my trip to work for a few hours at the Emery County Progress in Castle Dale this morning. It's easy for eastern Utahn's to blame much of the problem on Highway 6 on out-of-staters who don't know how dangerous that road can be. But we have few excuses for 10 and the lousy driving habits people exhibit on that road; most of the traffic on it is from those who live in the area.
I realize it is not a great road. It is terribly rutted and has few passing lanes.
On the other hand, it is also very straight, particularly between Price and Huntington, and for the most part also has great lines of site for passing.
Yet this morning, while driving 65, the posted speed limit, which I refuse to exceed on that bumpy rutted road, I was tailgated by almost every vehicle that came up behind me. The traffic coming in the other direction was fairly heavy and it was probably hard to pass me, but afterall I was doing the speed limit. When people did pass at least 30 percent of them did it on double yellow lines, when other cars were far too close for them to safely do so or when hills obscured their views traveling at the speeds they were doing. It was a procession of Emery and Carbon County stickered license plates going by me at 75-90 miles per hour.
Most of the other 70 percent tried to tailgate me into submission: "Go faster or I'll run you off the road" type of strategies.
By the time I got to Huntington 12 cars had passed me; I counted it up and I found the vast majority of them were in town, either slowed by the speed limits (and fear of getting caught there) or parked at a convenience store getting coffee or other goodies.
Most of the accidents I have covered on Highway 10 since I have been at the newspaper have been one car mishaps, largely due to speed. Many have included fatal injuries.
Isn't it all just a little ridiculous: taking chances with lives of everyone just to get somewhere a little faster or because of ego wanting to get ahead of someone else.
Or maybe they just wanted to be sure they got to the donut store before me.