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UHP reminds drivers to keep a cool head on the roads



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SALT LAKE CITY -- With summer approaching, hundreds of road construction projects are underway in Utah. That means, narrowed traffic lanes, slower speeds and drivers getting a bit "hot under the collar." The Utah Highway Patrol is advising drivers to just take a deep breath and keep moving.

Vaughn Barrus showed us the damage on his truck. It resulted from an incident that happened Tuesday morning on northbound Interstate 15 near American Fork.

Barrus says a semi truck pulling two trailers came up behind him. He was boxed in by traffic, so he couldn't get out of the way. The truck then changed lanes.

"He came up beside me, looked at me, leaned over, flipped me the bird and repeated some expletives," Barrus said.

The semi then veered into Barrus' lane, and the rear trailer side-swiped his pickup truck, nearly forcing him into another lane of traffic. "It was definitely not an accident. He knew exactly what he was doing," Barrus said.

The UHP is investigating the incident as a hit-and-run and possibly a case of road rage.

This is the second apparent case of road rage in Utah County in the past couple of days. Last weekend, Lehi police say a man followed a woman a Park and Ride lot after a traffic incident.

Officers arrested Michael Sean Leblanc for allegedly stabbing the woman with a pocketknife. She's OK; he's in the Utah County Jail.

This summer is expected to be the busiest in terms of highway construction projects in Utah; nearly 300 are on the drawing board. These projects will certainly disrupt traffic in some areas and will no doubt strain a few tempers.

"If you're in a rush and you see someone who's potentially going to cause a road rage situation, let it go. If they're driving like that now, they'll be driving like that later, and we're out there and looking for them," said UHP Trooper Nathan Powell.

We've heard the tips many times:

  • Slow down
  • Don't tailgate
  • Be patient
  • Expect the unexpected

Witnesses were able to get a license plate number on the semi that side-swiped the Barrus' truck. The UHP says the semi belongs to trucking company based in Salina, and that is cooperating in the investigation.

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Story compiled with contributions from Keith McCord and Marc Giauque.

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