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Wanted: better drivers

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The rebuilding of I-15 in Salt Lake County has improved the transportation infrastructure of the Wasatch Front. What hasn't improved is the quality of the motorists here.

Lack of consideration for other drivers and lack of regard for traffic rules seem to be bigger problems in the Salt Lake area than in Los Angeles, where I recently lived. Particularly annoying are the obsessive tailgating and speeding practiced by a large percentage of drivers here.

As a sky diver who has logged nearly 2,000 free-fall jumps, I can understand the desire some people have to engage in dangerous activities. However, someone who tailgates and speeds on public roads doesn't just endanger himself, he creates unnecessary risk for innocent people, including the passengers in his own car, the drivers and passengers in other cars and even pedestrians.

Traffic in the Salt Lake Valley will get much worse in the future. Look around you the next time you're in a public place and count the people under the age of 16. In a few years, all of them will be driving. Our local road improvement efforts, while laudable, are too little too late. Unless a lot of people begin to act in a more civilized and responsible manner, driving will become less pleasant with each passing year.

Perhaps one solution would be to deploy unmarked police cars to enforce traffic laws. Another approach would be to increase the financial penalties for traffic violations. In Los Angeles, an ordinary traffic ticket can cost $2,000 in fines and increased insurance premiums. Also, the tests one must pass to obtain a driver's license are much tougher in California than they are in Utah.

In any event, I find it ironic that one of the reasons I enjoy going back to Los Angeles from time to time is the relaxation I get from driving on the freeways there.

N. William Clayton