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Ask a cop: What happened to polite drivers?

By Officer Anonymous | Posted - Apr 8th, 2013 @ 11:17am

SALT LAKE CITY — As I drive around the Salt Lake Valley and the state, I wonder what happened to polite drivers. I’m pretty sure I remember some when I was younger. They were the ones who had a lot of patience for me as I learned a manual transmission in an ’80s Subaru. For you younger readers, that’s where the driver had to change gears for the car via an extra pedal (clutch) and a stick where your Big Gulps go.

People would let others into their lane without impatience. They would never speed past everyone in a merging lane just to wedge themselves in at the last second. You would move out of the passing lane (left lane) when not passing someone. You wouldn’t sit there like you planted your flag on new territory and it was now your lane.

I drove to a small town and everyone was waving as I passed by, whether in a vehicle or walking. I didn’t know what to make of it. I asked my wife, who is from a small town, and she said that’s just the way those people are. I liked it. I come from a town where people look the other way or wave with only one finger.

I think it's because in a small town everyone knows everyone else. You can't get away with cutting someone off and never seeing them again. They will come to your house after work or bump into you at the feed store. I think we hide our impolite driving behind a veil of anonymity. What if everyone had to put their name on the side of their vehicle, like fighter pilots. We would probably start seeing a lot more very specific status updates on Facebook about how crappy that person's driving is.

I see people driving when they realize that they are about to miss their turn. Regardless of who may be in the lane they need to be in or lighting, they are going to make that turn. They have no backup plan. Heaven forbid they go to the next block and make the turn. “Good luck everybody!” they shout as they swerve across three lanes to make their turn.

Stop eating cereal while you are driving! I'm talking to you, guy driving with his knees, while you try to stay in your lane. I drive an unmarked police vehicle so people drive as they would normally and don’t stack up behind me waiting for me to exit the freeway. I constantly see adults on a cellphone, operating it at eye level, or applying makeup or reading a paper or legal documents (I’m not kidding). Remember when the first priority of driving was driving? Sometimes I pull them over and give them a friendly warning. I'm watching you.

One of the moves I think is extremely impolite is the first or second car at the left green turn arrow who either doesn't notice when it turns or takes their sweet time making the turn, which inevitably causes the people in the back to not make the light and have to wait another cycle or two to get through the intersection.

Why does everyone think they are the only one in a hurry? Why does everyone think they are the best driver on the road? Guess what, everyone has somewhere to be and are just as important as you are. We are all in it together. Let's help each other out and get to wherever we are going safely.

Your job is not to teach other drivers how to drive while you are driving. Everyone’s job should be to be as polite as possible and lead by example. Especially cops. I hear a lot of complaints about the way we drive. How do you differentiate between a cop going to a call and a cop going to the 7-eleven? It's tough to do, so we need to police ourselves for the most part.

Ask a Cop:

Don't get me wrong, there are several checks and balances to keep us driving politely. Most cop cars have a type of GPS unit in them and administrators can check our driving behavior, especially when there is a complaint made. You may see the terrible driving but not the end result. I know many a cop who has lost his vehicle for up to a year and had to work the desk or take telephone calls at the police station.

Maybe it's not the best idea to have a cop who just lost his car answer phone calls from the public, but they have to do something! Realize that most cops driving quickly are driving to your call for service, especially when it involves possible injury or crimes in progress. People always tell us we took forever responding to their call. We are always trying to balance responding quickly to the call and still following the rules of the road.

So to the person who just has to have their Wheaties or the person who is in charge of the car-pool lane, try to be a little more polite when you are traveling the roadways and we will try not to hit our lights every time we hit a red light, just for fun.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. I do not represent a specific agency or government. Please send questions to

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