UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has been working to crack down on distracted drivers. ABC4 rode along with them today during their blitz in Utah County.

Over the course of an hour, troopers spotted over 20 distracted drivers on the road, most of whom were on their cellphones.

Within just minutes of riding with troopers, they spotted a person texting behind the wheel. UHP says this isn’t surprising given that the majority of distracted drivers are using their phones.

“We know that 41% of the distractions we’re seeing are cell phone related,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden with Utah Highway Patrol.

Sgt. Roden says distracted driving isn’t just limited to people using their phones. During these blitzes, they’re looking for people who are doing things that take their eyes away from the road — this includes putting on makeup, eating or drinking, playing with a pet, or even watching movies behind the wheel.

“If there’s other distractions people are having inside of a vehicle and they’re committing lane travel violations, that falls under the careless driving statute in Utah,” Sgt. Roden said.

In 2021, Utah Highway Patrol saw over 5,300 crashes involving a distracted driver, which is more than an eight percent increase compared to 2020.

So far this year, there have been over 850 distracted driving-related crashes.

One thing Sgt. Roden recommends is that parents talk with their teens about staying safe on the road.

“We see over 27% of our distracted driving issues are teen related, so if you talk with your teens, let them know the dangers of distracted driving and make sure that you set clear rules with them that they should not drive distracted,” he said.

And if you’re tempted to do things like looking at your phone, he suggests putting it out of sight. 

“That’s a  good way for us to help us reduce those crashes and to reduce fatalities — by helping people to make sure they’re focused on driving and trying not to focus and divide their attention on too many things,” Sgt. Roden says.

He wants to remind people that distracted driving is an issue that matters not just during Distracted Driving Awareness month, but all year long.