SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Along the west side is one of Utah’s newest and busiest roads: Mountain View Corridor. Locals have expressed concern for the road’s safety, so ABC4 News looked into the crash data and what’s being done to keep drivers safe.
Once Mountain View Corridor is complete, it will be a 35-mile freeway from I-80 in Salt Lake County to S.R. 73 in Utah County.
“We’ve seen some areas that have triple the amount of traffic out there, and that’s going to continue,” says John Gleason, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Transportation.
The west side’s population continues to grow at a rapid rate, and with that comes more drivers on the road.
“The more traffic, the more vehicles you have out there, the more opportunities you have for incidents,” Gleason says.
In five years, 1,069 crashes have been reported on this north/south ribbon of highway. UDOT reports 53 of those accidents caused injuries, and seven people lost their lives.
“It’s easy to look at the data and say, ‘Oh, this number of people died,’” Gleason says. “But each one of these numbers [is] a person, and it’s a person not going home to their families at night.”
Police officers who patrol the westside and parts of the Corridor say people who run red lights are responsible for many of the collisions.
“We’re seeing speeds in excess of 65 and again, we’re seeing red light violations, which is the cause of most of the accidents we’re seeing up there,” says Lt. Rich Bell with West Jordan Police Department.
An ABC4 News camera rolled during a recent evening commute, watching several drivers hit the gas when the traffic light changed.
“A yellow light means you need to slow down and not speed up,” says Commander Zach Adams, with Herriman City Police Department.
During that 60-minute recording session, ABC4 News watched three drivers run the red light at 7800 South – the intersection with the most crashes on the Corridor in 2020, according to UDOT.
“I don’t want to imply that people intentionally run red lights. Oftentimes, it’s just they either don’t see it or they’re not paying attention, or something happens that they don’t,” says Chief Don Hutson, with Riverton Police Department.
So how dangerous is driving Mountain View Corridor?
For this report, ABC4 News gathered data from a similar intersection style road, Bangerter Highway.
An average of 58,000 drivers travel Bangerter Highway daily. In comparison, more than 30,000 drivers use Mountain View Corridor, located a few blocks west of Bangerter.
Despite having nearly double the amount of traffic, Bangerter Highway reports – on average – 25.67 crashes per intersection, per year, while Mountain View reports 20.5 crashes. This data was collected by UDOT from 2017 to 2019.
When it comes to red-light crashes, the corridor doubled its numbers over Bangerter Highway; Mountain View reporting 4.83 crashes per intersection, per year; and 2.25 crashes on Bangerter.
“And when it turns green, look both ways before you proceed through the intersection to make sure other people are seeing it’s a red light,” says Sgt. Eric Anderson, with South Jordan Police Department.
At least 90% of all crashes have some form of human error.
“When you see a crash and when you see a deadly crash, your natural instinct, my natural instinct, is to say, ‘This shouldn’t have happened,’” Gleason says. “And they’re right, everybody’s right. These crashes should not be happening.”
Even though the corridor meets national highway safety standards, UDOT continues to increase safety measures at intersections with improved signal time, more visible road signs, advanced warning signals, and programmable signal heads, limiting visibility to specific areas.
“We didn’t want to take any chances. We wanted to make sure if there was an engineering solution out there that we look into it and that we apply it,” Gleason says.
But how do you stop bad driving behaviors?
Westside officials say it’s by education and driver’s taking responsibility when behind the wheel.
“You just continue to emphasize safety. You also try to run enforcement operations. You also try to keep speeds down,” Hutson says.
“The best way to keep a roadway safe is if motorists would adhere to the speed limits, pay attention to their surroundings,” Bell says.
From Porter Rockwell Road to 4100 South, there are 11 intersections. Police from five major jurisdictions each patrol just a few of those.
In the years to come, Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street tells ABC4 News they may take over patrol on Mountain View Corridor, and even Bangerter Highway.
“We are in talks with the municipalities, the county, DOT, and even at the state level, to understand that one day we may be taking over the jurisdiction of that roadway,” Street says.
Once they gain jurisdiction, more help will be needed.
“There’s more volume of calls, more volume of enforcement needed. And with that, we would need more troopers,” Street says.
On Utah roads, Street says it’s proven that having law enforcement around can limit crashes.
“If it hits your pocketbook with a ticket…research shows you’re more likely to pay attention to it down the road,” Street says. “With enforcement comes a more concerted effort for people to pay attention.”
And if drivers put down their distractions and pay attention to laws, he says it increases road safety.
“There are safer methods than having the lights there, but at this point in our growth, and at this point in our roadways engineering, it’s sort of a necessary evil. But the onset goes on the individual motorist, the driver, to make sure they’re paying attention to the lights as they change 100 percent of the time they’re on the road.
Mtn. View corridor is expected to connect to state route 201 by June or July. Gleason says the latest stretch of road includes up-to-date safety measures.