Utah (ABC4) – Spring break, a long awaited, highly anticipated week of rest is finally here for many Utah school districts.
Utahans across the state are hitting the road and airways for a spring getaway.
Nancy Volmer, Director of Communication and Marketing for the Salt Lake City International Airport tells ABC4 they are “seeing an average of 20,000 passengers coming through the front door this weekend.”
She says she suspects there are a lot of skiers who are coming to the area to do some spring skiing.
“Prior to the pandemic, we would see about 26,000. So though the numbers are not up to pre-pandemic, they are much better than we were seeing last year at this time,” Volmer shares.
Passengers are encouraged to get to the airport early and allow plenty of time, since many are experiencing the new airport for the first time, Volmer adds.
Lt. Nick Street with the Utah Highway Patrol, UHP, tells ABC4 this year’s spring break will fall over Easter weekend, enhancing travel concerns statewide.
He says this weekend and the coming week will be an “all hands on deck” situation with proactive enforcement.
There are three main things the Utah Highway Patrol wants travelers to keep in mind this week, Lt. Street shares.
- Buckle up. Even if you are in rural areas of the state, buckling up is always of the “utmost importance,” Lt. Street shares.
Less than 10% of drivers don’t buckle up- that less than 10% makes up half of our fatalities in the state of Utah, Lt Streets adds.
- “Drive alert and focused,” Lt Streets says. It doesn’t take much to become distracted behind the wheel.
He says to always stay off your phone and try not to be tempted to change a song or read or send a text. “Avoid those distractions and you will keep everyone in your vehicle safe.”
- “Drive calmly and have patience.”
Lt Streets tells ABC4 it is “construction season” in Utah. He advises travelers to expect delays and to “plan on having some patience with your fellow motorists.” Don’t let others’ bad behavior and driving keep you from arriving at your destination safely, he adds.
Lt. Street says UHP is concerned about an uptick in fatalities on Utah roadways.
As of Monday, March 22, the Highway Safety Office has reported 48 fatal crashes that have resulted in 53 deaths statewide
By this time in 2020, there were 36 fatal crashes resulting in 39 fatalities statewide. There was also a decrease of 13% in overall traffic in 2020 and despite the decrease, the state saw a lot more fatalities in 2019 than in 2020 and have already seen more in 2021.
“We are concerned to see 2021 already ahead of 2020……we need to encourage people to change some behaviors behind the wheel to protect everyone else,” Lt. Street says.
As travelers begin to head out of town Friday, the Utah Department of Transportation, UDOT, is asking everyone to please plan ahead.
UDOT has issued a warning for residents in Salt Lake and Davis counties to plan for at least 15-minute delays on I-15.
UDOT recommends drivers plan ahead for possible heavy traffic along I-15 Friday as spring break starts for several Wasatch Front school districts.
UDOT engineers expect that delays will be heaviest during the following times:
- I-15 in Salt Lake County (both directions): Friday from 2-9 p.m., 15-minute delays
- I-15 in Davis County (southbound): Friday from 4-7 p.m., 15-minute delays
- I-15 in Davis County (northbound): Friday from 2-7 p.m., 10-minute delays
Other areas where heavier traffic is expected include U.S. 191 in Moab, U.S. 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon, and I-15 in St. George. Vehicles wider than 12 feet are restricted on I-15 near Beaver and U.S. 191 in Moab. Drivers should plan ahead, allow extra travel time, and consider alternate routes, UDOT shares.
Keep in mind construction schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change.