Deaths on Utah roadways up compared to last year’s numbers

Posted at 10:09 PM, Jun 11, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- We’re only 16 days into the 100 deadliest days of summer, and already Utah has seen a spike in fatalities on Utah’s roads.

The Utah Highway Patrol plans on increasing the number of troopers on the roads this summer.

UHP officials said, so far, the statistics are alarming, with nearly one person killed in a car accident every day since Memorial Day. That was 16 days ago, and we’ve had 13 fatalities. UHP officials said they are very concerned with the increase we’ve seen over the last year.

Just minutes into FOX1 3 News' ride along with a UHP trooper, we hear loud tire screeching as a driver slams on the brakes, narrowly escaping an accident. It’s a sound no one wants to hear and UHP is beefing up their enforcement efforts to help keep motorists and pedestrians safe during these deadly months of summer.

With 13 fatal accidents since Memorial day, that means UHP has seen .72 people killed each day since the start of the 100 deadliest days – that’s nearly one death a day. So far this year, UHP has seen 52 traffic fatalities, compared to 35 last year during the same time. Danny Fuhr, Superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol, said that total only includes deaths on highway patrol calls.

“This year we’re 17 above average of where we were this year on the highway patrol alone, just the highway patrol;17 more people are dead because of preventable measures," he said.

UHP officials said fatalities among unrestrained drivers have increased significantly.

“The roadways are much faster today than they were years ago," Fuhr said. "We have 80 mph zones. If people are going to travel at these speeds and their car goes off the road and they try to correct and that vehicle rolls, if they’re not restrained properly they’re out of the vehicle.”

For troopers like Shawn Peppers, he said speeding and tailgating are major contributors to accidents.

“The roads are dry, the weather is nice, and people just want to get to their destination,” he said.

FOX 13 News saw this happening while on patrol with Peppers, and it’s the reason he pulled over several drivers.

He explains to one driver: “You have to give yourself enough distance in case the car in front of you brakes that you’ll have enough time to brake. It’s one of the things we’re trying to encourage the motoring public to do out there. We’re trying to reduce crashes.”

We can expect to see more Highway Patrol troopers on the roads from now until Labor Day, focusing specifically from Friday night to Monday mornings. The legislature approved a million dollars for this effort. You can find UHP’s safe summer driving tips here.

Some of the absolute must do’s and don’ts according to UHP officials:
• Don’t drive drunk or impaired
• Drive the speed limit
• Wear your seatbelt
• Don’t text and drive or be distracted behind the wheel
• Get enough sleep