Utah’s elevation and road policies raise unique concerns. Elevation exposes your vehicle to different problems, and Utah’s strict road policies can unlawfully target unwitting drivers. However, simple changes and upgrades to your vehicle can make driving in Utah roads easier and safer.
Higher elevation means thinner oxygen in the air. This can decrease your vehicle’s power output and overall performance. While most cars with fuel-injection systems can usually adjust to higher altitudes, a tune-up can ensure your vehicle will be performing at maximum efficiency, with a few less horsepower. However, if you want to keep that horsepower, you can get your car turbocharged. Turbochargers suck and compress air before it enters your engine, making up for the thinner oxygen and giving your vehicle a boost. Changing elevation can also affect your tire pressure. Check your tire pressure regularly, especially if you travel out-of-state. On the plus side, you can use lower-octane fuel on your car at high altitudes. Low-octane fuel at 85 or 87 cost significantly less than their high octane counterparts so that you can save 3-5 percent on fuel costs.
The short (or long) amount of time you spend driving to work exposes you to significant amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While this might not be so serious at sea-level, every county in Utah is elevated to some degree. UV concentrations go up by as high as 7 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation. With almost every Utah county standing above 4,000 feet (except St. George), the minimum amount of UV exposure you can expect is still 28 percent more concentrated than normal levels. This heightened amount of UV is the reason Utah has the highest incidents of skin cancer in the USA. UV filtering film is essential for elevated driving. These films block 99 percent of harmful UV rays, ensuring that you won’t get chronic UV exposure from your daily commute.
Utah has one of the strictest road policies regarding drunk driving. Unlike the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 enforced in 50 states, Utah’s BAC limit is at 0.05. Under this strict regulation, the state made 2,700 arrests in just the first quarter of the year. A single bottle of beer can put you over the limit even if you don’t feel drunk or even tipsy. Overzealous officers can flag your car and make you submit to a Breathalyzer exam on suspicion of driving drunk. However, if you can prove that the officer’s suspicion had no grounds, your lawyers can easily have the case dismissed. One way to do that is by keeping a record of your driving with a dashboard camera. Even if your BAC is over the limit, as long as you can prove that you were driving safely, you can beat that criminal DUI charge.
Living elevated requires a bit of adjusting, and the same goes for your car and your driving. Make sure to make the necessary upgrades to make your rides smoother and safer.