Utah’s I-15 has one of the highest accident rates involving semi trucks and other commercial vehicles in the state. When it’s a passenger car versus a commercial vehicle, the people inside the car are six times more likely to be killed. Common reasons for the crashes include drivers following too closely, making unsafe lane changes and cutting in front of semis.
Utah law requires drivers to allow two seconds in front of or behind a semi before changing lanes, which is not surprising considering that it takes 500 feet for a semi truck to come to a complete stop. One way the Utah Highway Patrol is attempting to stop drivers from cutting off semis is a new program known as Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT).
TACT is a joint program of the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Division and is designed to keep drivers safe when sharing the highways with commercial vehicles. One of the main goals of the campaign is reducing the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles and cars. The Utah Highway Patrol believes that stopping aggressive driving can help prevent some of these accidents.
Utah law considers aggressive driving behavior to be “willful and wanton disregard for safety of persons or property or three or more moving violations in a single continuous period of driving.” In addition to tailgating, moving violations can include an improper lane change, cutting in front of other drivers, weaving in and out of traffic, passing in no-passing zones, speeding and running stop signs or traffic lights.
In implementing the TACT program, the Utah Highway Patrol monitored drivers on Interstate 15 from inside an 18-wheeler. The truck had a giant wrap-around ad displaying several larger-than-life-sized photos of a trooper and announcing that cutting off a semi could cost $750. Despite the obvious warning on the truck, about 30 vehicles were observed aggressively driving around the semi in a single day.
When the troopers inside the semi spotted a traffic violation, they radioed to a nearby state trooper, who stopped the violator and either gave a verbal warning with a written handout explaining safe driving tips around commercial trucks or issued a ticket.
Utah is one of only 12 states that either amended an existing reckless driving law to include aggressive behavior driving or created laws pertaining specifically to aggressive driving to try to increase safety on the roads and reduce the number of car and truck accidents.