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MURRAY — You can hear the Utah Highway Patrol car crunching as another driver sideswipes it.
In another video, you can see a pickup truck scraping the side of another patrol car as both are moving on I-15.
These are two examples the Utah Highway Patrol wanted to share with the public Thursday to raise awareness of a maneuver they call a “slow-down technique.”
“We’ve had three troopers sideswiped by people who don’t know exactly what’s going on,” said UHP Lt. Jeff Nigbur.
The “slow down” maneuver is when a UHP patrol car swerves from side to side across all lanes of traffic to try to slow drivers behind them.
The purpose is to give another trooper further ahead time to run onto the interstate to remove debris in the traffic lanes.
“There could be a half-mile to a mile ahead of you some type of debris, maybe a tire is in the road, a chair, a barbecue or ladder. Who knows? But we're trying to get that piece of debris out of the road,” Nigbur said.
In the cases where troopers were hit, a driver tried to pass the patrol car and was hit when the patrol car swerved back across.
"You want to back off and slow down as much as reasonably possible,” explained trooper Aaron Capes.
Capes wasn’t one of the troopers hit, but he’s had a few close calls when he's been helping remove debris from the roads.
"There is quite a lot out there. I did, just today, probably had six or seven calls that I had to respond to,” he said.
He also understands many drivers don’t know what the trooper is doing when they see a trooper swerving back and forth.
"It's confusing. I've heard several troopers that have had complaints called on them that said such and such is actually driving drunk and driving over the freeway in an unusual manner,” Capes said.
The troopers who were hit weren’t injured, but Nigbur just wants drivers to know what this maneuver is and why it’s being done.
“You’ll only see this slow-down maneuver for a minute or two, and then you can go back to full speed,” Nigbur said. “Honestly, we want everybody to be safe, but I’d rather have property damage (from a patrol car being hit) than have a trooper get run over and killed."