SALT LAKE CITY — The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day marks what's known as the "100 Deadliest Days" on Utah roads. In order to prevent wrecks and deaths, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation have launched the "Summer Safely" campaign.
Utah Highway Patrol told FOX 13 they've seen a sharp increase in traffic violations over the last year. Troopers said the fact that many have been "cooped up" over the last year due to COVID-19 restrictions is a leading cause. The Summer Safely campaign aims to educate the public on how to keep roads safe throughout the 100 Deadliest Days.
"We've seen an increase of 45 percent in speed citations of over 100-miles-an-hour," said Sergeant Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol. "We've seen a ten percent increase in DUI's, and we've seen an alarming increase, about 36 percent increase, in wrong-way fatal crashes."
One person helping to push the Summer Safely messaging is Joshua Holmstead.
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"If something goes wrong, it can go wrong quick and hurt a lot of people," he said.
Holmstead is the survivor of a near fatal wreck in July of 2017. The harrowing moment was captured on his work truck's dashboard camera.
"[I] saw a car coming ahead of me, and my first initial thought was, 'that car is going pretty fast,'" Holmstead said. "You could tell by the way the car was behaving it was booking."
Moments later, Holmstead collided with the car, causing it to roll off the road.
"She ended up fish-tailing and ended up right in front of me kind of perpendicular to my truck," he added.
He credits a defensive driving course taught through his work for saving both of their lives.
"It was kind of muscle memory as to how to break the truck and turn, and luckily I just glanced her," he said.
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Holmstead said since that day, he has made it a point to slow down and pay extra attention while driving. Both are behaviors encouraged by the Summer Safely campaign.
"Drive calm, drive focused, drive alert, drive sober and always buckling up," said John Gleason, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Transportation. "These are the steps that we're asking people to remember as they're hitting the road, taking these long road trips."
Utah Highway Patrol said reducing speeds and buckling up are the two biggest ways to remain safe this summer. Sergeant Roden said only about nine percent of Utahns don't wear their seatbelt, but that 9 percent accounts for close to half of all road deaths in the state.
The Summer Safely campaign will run between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Roden said Utah Highway Patrol, along with other agencies, will have an additional 3,600 shifts to try and stop speeders. You can find more information on the Summer Safely campaign, as well as safe driving tips on the Zero Fatalities website.