SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah is now in what officials call the deadliest days of the year.
The Utah Highway Patrol says the period of time starting with Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day have the highest number of deaths due to poor driving. And these deaths, officials say, are often entirely avoidable.
While the summer months don’t have the extreme winter weather and ice that most people associate with dangerous driving, UHP says many of these fatal crashes are linked to more cars on the road and aggressive driving.
“Right now we’re seeing a huge increase in aggressive driving, people that are tailgating people that are speeding, and, you know, cutting other people off improper lane change. That’s where we’re seeing a big uptick in traffic fatalities,” said Utah Department of Transportation Public Relations Director John Gleason.
However, aggression is not the only contributing factor to dangerous driving. UDOT said summer carelessness is also to blame. Without winter weather conditions, many drivers become complacent, according to Gleason.
Despite the deadly days ahead, this year has already seen improvement as there have been fewer accidents in the beginning months of this year than in 2022. Last year, UHP officials said there were 116 fatalities from January to May on Utah roads compared to 90 this year.
Over Memorial Day weekend in Utah, there were five fatal crashes with seven deaths in 2022 and two fatal crashes with two fatalities in 2023. There were also fewer crashes overall this year during the holiday weekend, however, the number of DUI arrests and speeding tickets did increase, according to UHP.
UHP Lieutenant Jalaine Hawkes credits additional education on road safety to reducing fatalities so far in 2023. She said this education comes from troopers working to educate drivers and from efforts seen at home.
UDOT and UHP’s 100 Deadliest Days campaign is meant to help reduce the number of avoidable fatalities through education. However, officials say being a safe driver does not need to be overly complicated.
To stay safe, watch out for pedestrians, put your phone down, and wear your seatbelt because one fatality is one too many.