Officials hope trend continues as fewer fatalities occur on Utah roadways this summer

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 19:41:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer begins Memorial Day and ends Labor Day. Now at the halfway point, The Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patrol looked at the numbers and found the number of fatalities, so far, is down from last year.

Trooper Lawrence Hopper said that can only continue if we all do our part to drive safely.

"We can get on the news over and over and say, 'Hey, buckle up. Drive safely. Don't drink and drive.' But in the end it's up to the drivers," he said.

Looking at the numbers, it seems drivers may be listening because there have been 41 fatalities since Memorial Day, as opposed to last year's 50 deaths over the same period. In 2016, from January 1st through July 14th, there were 145 fatalities. That number went down by 13 this year to 132 fatalities.

Hopper attributes some of that to their increased presence on the freeways.

"Every weekend we've got officers, troopers out on the road doing focused DUI enforcement," he said. "We're looking for distracted drivers. We're doing a concerted effort on distracted driving, aggressive driving, those who aren't wearing their seat belts. It's not that we're looking to cite people. It's not like we're trying to ruin their day. We're just trying to make the roads safer and trying to keep that number of fatalities down."

UDOT spokesman John Gleason said that effort, coupled with drivers putting away distractions and driving more safely, is paying off. Gleason said they found not one fatality on Utah roads from July 6th through July 13th.

"When you're talking about going an entire week without seeing a fatality on our roads, when during the 100 Deadliest Days we usually average 1 to 1.5 fatalities every day, that's a big deal," Gleason said.

With another 50 days to go, Gleason and Hopper said they are cautiously optimistic for the rest of the summer, and say that it is up to the drivers to help continue the trend.

"Ninety-four percent of all crashes are a result of human error, and so most of these crashes—almost all of them—can be prevented," Gleason said.

Click here for more on the Zero Fatalities campaign in Utah.