Labor Day weekend part of ‘100 Deadliest Days’ for Utah roadways

Posted at 3:57 PM, Aug 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-30 17:57:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns are expected to hit the road in droves this holiday weekend, and officials want people to remember the state is still amidst the “100 Deadliest Days.”

Officials said traditionally there is a 35 percent increase in fatalities relating to accidents on Utah roadways in the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

According to data from AAA Utah, an estimated 2.5 million residents in the Mountain West area will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, which is a 5.4 percent increase from last year.

Rolayne Fairclough, AAA, said drivers need to be careful, wear their seat belts and get enough sleep before hitting the road.

"When you're on the holiday often times people will stay up late the night before, pack and get ready and do all these chores and wake up early and get an early start, but that's just a recipe for being very, very tired and falling asleep at the wheel,” Fairclough said. “So try to get as much done as you can before. Get a good night's rest before you take off."

According to a press release from the Utah Department of Transportation, most areas with construction projects will have all lanes open during the holiday weekend. This includes projects on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon and the I-15 bridge maintenance in Lehi.

Some projects will have lane restrictions in place. Lanes will be reduced to a width of 11-feet between Payson and Spanish Fork on 1-15 as crews work to widen an eight-mile stretch of I-15. In northern Utah, I-15 will be reduced to one lane between State Route 30 and the Idaho border due to pavement maintenance.

AAA also provided several tips for travelers this holiday weekend.

Plan Ahead: Carefully consider your route to determine departure and arrival times, taking into account the expected higher level of congestion on the roads. Try to avoid morning and evening rush hours in heavily populated areas.

Carry a Basic Tool Kit: Some good items to include are a hammer, a rubber mallet, an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, wire cutters, a pair of needle-nose pliers, some baling wire, a can of WD-40 and a rag.

Bring a "Pet Kit" When Traveling with Pets: Include food, a bowl, a leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication, treats, and a favorite toy or pillow. Stop every couple of hours to let it stretch its legs, use the bathroom and expend some pent-up energy.

Pack Light: Avoid putting anything on the roof because the drag from such luggage can decrease fuel economy up to 21 percent. Before departing, check to see that your tires are properly inflated and examine your owner's manual for fuel octane requirements. If your car only needs regular unleaded, then you're just wasting money by fueling up with premium.

Avoid Being A Target: It only takes one burglary to put a damper on your road trip. Criminals sometimes target cars with travel materials like roadmaps in the front seat and tourists who look confused. At hotels and restaurants, try to park your car where you can keep an eye on it, especially if you have luggage in or on top of your vehicle. If you need to stop for a food or bathroom break, choose rest areas, gas stations, restaurants that are busy and well lit.