OPINION | Traffic in St. George may be bad, but its distracted drivers are the biggest issue

Alvaro Lopez, junior finance & economics major from Lima, Peru, was very frustrated with bad traffic in St. George. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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It’s easy to blame the traffic in St. George for many of issues that are caused on its many roads, and while that is partially true, the drivers also have a big part to play in maintaining safety on the roads.

The roads of St. George were not meant to handle such a large amount of traffic. This is why Bluff Street went under such a drastic makeover in 2018. Bluff Street used to only have two lanes at most on each side of the street with frequent accidents occurring near the intersection to Sunset Boulevard. Bluff Street now has three lanes on each side of the street and has more safety precautions around the intersections throughout the street.

Bluff Street and Sunset Boulevard got quite the makeover which allowed for more safety precautions to be made, but the rest of St. George has not been so lucky.

The street that needs the most attention is River Road.Itshad some work done on it, but the road constantly shifts from two lanes to three lanes and then back to two lanes. These types of frequent changes are the worst enemy to the distracted drivers of St. George. If one is not paying attention to constant lane shifts, the chances of an accident becomes more likely.

The St. George Police Department is very aware of the problems which plague the asphalt of St. George. So much so, they have a recurring segment on their Facebook page called “Traffic Tuesdays” where they detail the various issues and solutions for traffic in St. George.

Such issues include the lane changing issue mentioned earlier, but the biggest issue for St. George is something everyone can have a hand in fixing. The drivers of St. George need to keep their eyes on the road and nothing else.

I met with an officer from the SGPD to find out why distracted driving is such a big issue, not just for St. George, but for all of southern Utah.

The officer said we all have bad habits while driving, and the scariest part is, people don’t need a smartphone in hand to be distracted.

Things like applying makeup, eating fast food and interacting with friends while driving are just some of the examples of distracted driving. All these things are common catalysts that can lead to accidents.

The officer said he understands why drivers tend to get too comfortable while driving. It’s all too easy to just drift into the back of the mind while driving like listening to a white noise machine.

I’ve personally gotten to my car after a long night of work only to be back home with no recollection of the drive. It’s scary stuff.

It’s not just the city infrastructure that is the issue. The citizens of St. George also have a big part to play if they truly want to make the streets safer for everyone.

So, what are some ways to stay safe while enduring traffic in St. George?

The officer said it may sound like the same thing one hears in elementary school, but obeying traffic laws helps a lot in the long run. Follow the speed limit, keep a good distance between cars in heavy traffic, and don’t make dangerous decisions like changing lanes with such a small gap of opportunity.

We complain about traffic being such a bother, but overall, it’s not just the roads’ fault. The driver has plenty they can do to keep the roads safe.

As for the integrity and change to the roads, there is constant construction all around St. George to help increase the quality of life for drivers. Traffic will get better, but it’s going to take some time.

Overall, it’s far more important that we endure these little inconveniences so nobody gets hurt. It doesn’t matter if traffic is heavy; it’s far better to sit at a red light for five minutes than to ruin someone’s life over an inconvenience.