UTAH (ABC4) – Memorial Day weekend starts the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, and this year, it proved to be a difficult weekend full of speeding, crashes and fatalities. Utah Highway Patrol is urging Utahns to remember to practice safe driving as we continue into the summer.
“Going into the 100 Deadliest Days, having a really deadly weekend like we did, with at least six fatalities that we know of at this point and time, is not a good indicator for us,” said Sgt. Roden, with UHP.
During the Memorial Day weekend, there were six fatalities statewide, four on Utah’s freeways. There was one fatality on the freeways during this holiday weekend last year.
“We had two crashes that were double fatalities,” said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation. “What a terrible impact those types of crashes were.”
UHP also responded to 205 crashes, an increase from last year’s 179. There were 53 DUI arrests, compared to last year’s 41. 2,509 drivers were stopped for speeding, 130 drivers pulled over for speeding over 100 mph, as well as 21 drivers cited for reckless driving of extreme speeds of 105 and greater, following a law that went into place this month.
“We’ve seen an increase in almost every driving behavior across the board. Not only this year but last year as well,” Sgt. Roden said.
He says that often, a combination of these behaviors, such as driving under the influence and speeding, leads to highly dangerous situations out on the roads.
John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation says it’s been a rough year so far, with more traffic fatalities going into the Memorial Day weekend than in the last two decades with 116 as of May 26.
There were 101 fatalities on Utah roads during the 102 days that made up the deadliest days of summer in 2021, and it was the deadliest year on Utah roads since 2002.
“Right now, we are set to outpace last year with the number of fatalities we have, year to date, now versus where we are last year,” he said.
Gleason says as we head into the summer and Utah continues to see more growth, it’s especially important to do all you can to stay safe behind the wheel.
“The more people that are moving into the state, that’s more vehicles out on the road as well…so we have to watch out for the additional traffic,” Gleason said. “The summer months are generally when we see those fatality numbers increase because there’s more people out on the roads, people aren’t as cautious, possibly as they are in the winter months, because they aren’t contending with winter weather.”
The year isn’t over yet. Officials are urging that Utahns drive safely to prevent this trend from continuing.
“We can’t get complacent. A lot of the time, complacency gets us in a lot of trouble. We got to make sure we are focused on driving because driving itself demands all of our attention because things can change in a hurry,” said Sgt. Roden.
“These are things we can control, these are things we can change. We can make the decision not to drink and drive, we can make the decision to obey the speed limit, we can make the decision to put the distractions away. We all need to really focus on what we can do to improve the situation on our roads.” Gleason said.
More information on the Utah Highway Patrol Memorial Day weekend statistics can be found here.