Monday, October 8, 2012

If you can't drive on mountain roads, then don't.

Last weekend we went up into the mountains, "leaf peeping" to see the fall colours on all the trees up there. It was a popular weekend to do it so the roads were choked but none more so than the road we were on trying to get down from a popular destination. In front of me was a Porsche, and in front of him was a minivan with the most terrified, inexperienced driver I've come across in years. This wasn't just your typically bad Utah driver - this was a level of bad that was so dangerous this person should have had his license and vehicle taken away. For the 99.99% of the population that don't live where I do, open up Google earth an search for the Alpine Scenic Highway in Utah. It's a fairly narrow mountain road but it's easily wide enough to get two good-sized US vehicles past each other - pickups, minivans etc. From Sundance Resort down to Provo is about 18 miles and typically takes 30 to 40 minutes or so to complete in a car. Last weekend, it took us 90 minutes. The minivan driver would stop as soon as he came to a corner (there's hundreds of them) or whenever he saw a vehicle coming the other way. He properly had no idea how wide (or narrow) his vehicle was and seemed to be in permanent fear of "falling off" the road. When he was moving, we were crawling along at a good 8 to 9 miles per hour. When we got to the downhill stretch, he had his foot on the brake constantly for 40 minutes. The smell of his cooked brake linings penetrated the air in our car even with the a/c set to recycle. Not only did he have zero idea how to drive on a mountain road, but he also had no idea what he'd done to his brakes. Add to that he had no idea about local laws regarding how many vehicles you can tailback before you have to pull over, or even basic common decency to look in the mirror once in a while and realise what he'd done.
This highlighted an interesting point - people who are properly poor drivers are so bad they don't realise it. This guy had no business being on a mountain road - he was a danger to himself, the people in his van with him and everyone else on the road around him. But entitlement, ignorance, stupidity or selfishness put him there and he had no idea he was doing anything wrong. As someone once said - "you can't compensate for stupid".