Why Are We Seeing More Fatalities On Our Roads This Year?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Four fatal accidents overnight now brings the total for the first 15 days of the ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ to 22.  The Utah Department of Transportation saying we’re seeing more deaths this year that at the same time last year.

The ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ is living up to its name, the latest casualties on Utah’s roads happening just overnight.  

In Box Elder County at around 8:00 p.m. Friday a 19 year-old woman died after her car rolled over as she was traveling south on I-15 near milepost 370.  According to witnesses she was trying to pass a vehicle in the right lane when she drifted too far to the left and over-corrected swerving back to the right. Losing control she crossed the roadway into the median and struck the cable barrier, overturned, and crossed the cable.  She was wearing her seat belt but suffered life threatening internal injuries.

“In the summer months there’s a tendency to become a little bit more complacent.  I think we’re not dealing with that weather anymore and distractions are easier to come by, – you’re driving freeway limits for the most part – many people are exceeding the speed limit,” said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation.  

Another rollover occurred earlier in the day around 4:41 pm this one in Summit County. Witnesses reported erratic driving prior to the crash that happened eastbound on I-80 at mile post 173 near Coalville.  The two people inside who were not wearing a seat belt were ejected from the vehicle after it left the road and rolled over. 

“More than half of the fatalities, vehicle fatalities this year have been caused by people who aren’t wearing their seat belts or are improperly buckled so, that’s 13% that are making up more than half the total vehicle fatalities,” say Gleason.   “That’s a disproportionate number and it’s shocking.”  

Two others died Friday after the pickup truck truck they were riding in went over the side of the road and fell 600 ft near the Wardsworth trailhead of Hobble Creek Canyon. Some bicyclists found the debris and tire marks around 4:30 p.m.  The identities of the two were not readily available but police said they were a male and female and say alcohol may have been involved.

“93 to 94 percent of these crashes are all human errror, they can be avoided, they can be prevented,” says Gleason.

Lower gas prices means more drivers out on the roads.  UDOT wants to remind Utahn’s that it’s not only the best practice to put down the distractions but also practice defensive driving.

“It really is easy to take it for granted because all of us do it, but it’s the most dangerous thing that most of us do all day long and it’s easy to become complacent, it’s easy to take it for granted but one second of your attention off the road can have deadly consequences,” says Gleason.

According to UDOT we had 276 fatalities on Utah’s roadways in 2015.  They say that number is higher than we’ve seen in recent years.  They say as of now we are higher than we were this time last year.  If this trend continues we may be seeing a record number of deaths on our roads this year.  It’s a scary thought, which is why UDOT is reminding drivers to pay attention when driving, respect the roads and those around you, and always buckle up.

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