We're licensed! Caitlin and I went to the DMV this morning to get Utah driver's licenses. We are now official Utah residents, and Caitlin is officially a 'Francis' according to the Department of Transportation (the last agency informed of her marriage). Changing her name has been a slow process, but it's finally done!
Meanwhile, I discovered while at the DMV exactly why it is that Utah drivers are terrifying. It turns out, the government of Utah has written it right into its law.
In order to be issued a Utah driver's license for the first time, you are required to take a written, open-book exam on arbitrary driving trivia, only occasionally relevant to your situation (e.g., 'how long is a military officer's Utah driver's license valid for after being discharged?' Ninety days, fyi.). Anyway, I missed one. Twenty four out of twenty five. Shameful. What upsets me more though, is the question I missed:
"When a pedestrian is at a crosswalk, when should you stop for him?
A. When he is standing at the crosswalk waiting to cross
B. When he is crossing in the crosswalk, in or near the lane in which you are driving
C. When he is anywhere in the crosswalk
D. All of the above"
I didn't even blink; 'I don't need to look this one up,' I thought. The Police in the Las Vegas would plant pedestrians waiting at crosswalks on busy roads all the time as a traffic trap to ticket those who failed to stop for them! Surely...SURELY, the answer is 'D.' You always have to yield to pedestrians, right? And especially at crosswalks.
WRONG. Apparently that only applies in more refined societies.
No, the correct answer is 'B.' So long as their toes aren't over that white, dashed line that signifies your lane, you can just smile, wave, and blow by that old man crossing the street--clipping his walker out from under him on the way. This is the first place I have ever lived where you are not required to wait for the second-grade children walking to school to make it safely to the other side of the street before you fly by at 45 mph.
When living in Wymount (BYU married student housing) last year, I had to cross 9th East to walk to campus every morning. It always astounded me how long I would have to wait at the side of the road before someone would stop for me (despite the flashing crosswalk sign just a few feet away). One day, I was crossing that same street (two lanes of traffic each direction, with a turn lane in the center) and got trapped in the center turn lane. (As soon as I made it to that center lane, the cars behind me started going again, and the cars in front of me never stopped for me.) Finally, after coaxing myself out of throwing all the coins in my pocket at the windshields of those cars flying by, someone stopped and allowed me to finish crossing the other half of the street. I suppose I need to ask forgiveness for thinking bad thoughts of all those drivers who flew by without paying me the least respect as a pedestrian. Apparently, they were perfectly within their "right."