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UHP, others look for solutions after weekend full of wrong-way crashes

Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 19:49:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Three people are dead after four wrong-way crashes in the Salt Lake area over the weekend.

READ: Two dead after wrong-way crash on I-15 in Salt Lake City

Utah Highway Patrol said there have been 43 wrong way crashes so far in 2022, resulting in seven deaths.

"It impacts officer's lives, it impacts families lives and it impacts the public," said Major Jeff Nigbur.

Nigbur said the UHP is seeing an increase in the calls they are getting about wrong-way drivers. He added that this year, there have been 58 occurrences of a vehicle going the wrong way, which is a 49% increase from the same time last year.

"The vast majority of the drivers that cause wrong way, fatal crashes are intoxicated either on alcohol and, or drugs and they're significantly intoxicated, they don't know which direction they're going," said Nigbur

Both UHP and the Utah Department of Transportation have worked to prevent these kinds of crashes from happening.

Wrong-way crash sites
Map shows the location of multiple wrong-way crashes in the Salt Lake area over the weekend

John Gleason, a UDOT spokesperson, said they have "Wrong Way" and "Do Not Enter" signage posted on every freeway exit ramp. Several years ago, UDOT also began investing in wrong-way driver technology.

"We have approximately 35 wrong way driver detection cameras throughout the state, that are working to find wrong way drivers," said Gleason.

Gleason says once that happens, notifications come into their traffic center and all the operators are notified.

He said messaging is sent out to let people know of a wrong-way driver and both highway patrol and law enforcement are alerted right away.

"The unfortunate reality is that a lot of times these crashes happen very fast and there's not a lot of reaction time," said Gleason.

Which is why both UHP and UDOT said they are looking to put together a task force and a strategic five-year plan of where they want to be on reducing these kinds of crashes.

thumbnail_chris_wrong way crashes FS-5.jpg
Numbers show the amount of wrong-way crashes in Utah through the years

"We want to put together a group that talks about this specific issue and hopefully again, hopefully we can track these a little bit better," said Nigbur.

FOX 13 News did ask Gleason if they are looking at what other states are doing to prevent wrong way crashes. He said they always share ideas with other states, with the hope being to find other potential solutions to cut down on these kinds of incidents.