After a recent city council meeting ended, I walked out with a resident who had moved to Orem from a city back east. She mentioned how much she loved living in Orem, that she was glad she had purchased a home in Orem, and more particularly how much nicer and friendlier the people are in Orem compared to her big city back east.
Last month, Time-Money magazine wrote that Orem was the No. 1 place to live in Utah due to its short commute for work, its low crime rate, its city wide amenities, its affordable home prices and its friendliness.
Recently, the Provo-Orem area, was named the second-best place in America as the best place to invest in residential real estate by Forbes Magazine, due to its population growth of 7.2 percent, its job growth rate of 6.7 percent, its home appreciation rate last year of 10 percent, and the forecast of home appreciation of 31 percent over the next three years.
Which brings me back to what my friend from back east said next to me. Her comment was, “With all of the great people we have here in Utah Valley, who do such amazing things, who serve each other so well, and who are so friendly, WHY do they turn into otherworldly people when they get behind the wheel of a car?”
listed Utah as the No. 1 state for the lowest rate of drunk driving in the nation. But Quote Wizard, at the same time, has just listed Utah as No. 50, or last place, in the nation for good driving.
This is due to two reasons: the number of car accidents and the number of speeding violations. So we are now ranked as the worst state in the nation for driving.
Two weeks ago, I sat in a turn lane on 1600 North and State Street in Orem at a stoplight waiting to turn south onto State Street off of 1600 North. The light going the other way had just changed and a woman in a car heading south on State Street began turning to go east onto 1600 North. At the same time she was turning she was texting. Due to her being distracted and not looking up to see where she was going, she began turning her car into my lane and towards my vehicle standing still at the light. She proceeded to turn right toward my truck and only due to my constant honking, did she look up and slam on her brakes, stopping two feet from my front bumper in the middle of the intersection, and thus avoided a head-on collision with me.
Two days later, I was making a left turn off of 800 North. The light had turned yellow and was going to red as I finished my turn, when another person driving a truck decided to try to run the light and attempt to get through the intersection before it turned red.
As such, he headed right towards the side of my truck, and again, I had to honk and hurry to get out of his way to keep from getting broadsided. He sped up to make the light which had turned red by the time he got there. It was a close call.
The Utah Highway Patrol has noted that 31 percent of all accidents are due to aggressive driving. It is also important to note that speeding shows to be one of the highest percentages of tickets written and causes of death in Utah.
On Feb. 1, the Provo Daily Herald wrote an editorial titled “We are joining the Resistance” referring to a new campaign by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Department of Public Safety to resist the urge to drive distracted. There are some fun videos supporting this drive featuring Cosmo, Governor Herbert, Miss Utah and Thurl Bailey that go along with it.
So back to my conversation with my friend. Why do we turn into other people when we get behind the wheel of a car? I don’t know. But, I do know I have experienced what the statistics are revealing about our driving. I admit I am also guilty of driving too fast and driving distracted. I have worked hard to eliminate these behaviors and have not had a speeding ticket for quite a few years.
But I believe that to my friend’s point, it would be great for all of us to improve our driving behaviors, keep other people and ourselves alive and safe and move up the list to No. 1 in good driving in the nation, to match all of the other top 10 lists that compliment our area and the state.
I pledge to work harder to do so and hope we all might work harder to not text as we drive, to stop speeding, to not drive aggressively and to be more courteous to those on the roads around us.