SALT LAKE CITY — According to the American Automobile Association, nearly 40 million Americans are expected to hit the road and drive at least 50 miles this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
Those numbers are up more than 8% from last year and nearly back to pre-pandemic travel levels.
Along with more travelers, more lives are being lost on the road. According to federal officials, just shy of 43,000 people lost their lives in vehicle accidents in 2021, which is a 10% increase over the previous year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the increasing number of traffic deaths a crisis on our roadways.
In Utah, there has been a recent uptick in reckless and aggressive driving that’s resulted in numerous and needless accidents resulting in death and injury.
“We’re seeing more cases of impaired driving, distraction, speeding, that aggressive driving," said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation. "So reckless driving behavior is really on the rise and that’s something we would caution everybody to watch out for. Not only yourselves as drivers, but watch out for those other drivers on the road who are acting recklessly, especially especially if you’re heading out for Memorial Day Weekend.”
As of earlier this week, UDOT is reporting more than 100 crashes resulting in 113 lives lost on Utah roads this year, with six people killed in traffic accidents just last week.
Officials warn that consequences for driving distracted, drowsy, impaired or speeding are real consequences.
Utah Highway Patrol troopers are set to kick off their "Click It or Ticket" campaign and will be out in force over the holiday. On top of that, 52 law enforcement agencies throughout the state will work 480 additional shifts to stop and educate motorists who aren’t wearing a seat belt.
Memorial Day is also the start of the so-called 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, so drivers are urged to be aware, be careful and slow down when out on the road.