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Travel up, fatalities down during 100 Deadliest Days

By Ashley Stilson  |  Posted Sep 6th, 2017 @ 5:32pm

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TAYLORSVILLE — From Memorial Day to Labor Day, 87 people died on Utah roads — seven fewer than last year at the same time, according to road safety campaign Zero Fatalities.

But that number is still too high, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said.

"Whenever we’re talking about numbers, we’re talking about people," Royce said. "We never feel our enforcement is enough whenever we have a fatality."

Even though Utah drivers traveled more this summer — logging 5 percent more miles than a year ago — the number of fatal crashes was down.

"If we can watch the amount that people drive increase and actually see a decrease in the number of fatalities, we’ll take that any day," Royce said Wednesday during a media event at the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Labor Day weekend marked the end of the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, a Zero Fatalities awareness campaign.

This summer marks the lowest number of fatalities since 2012. Nine counties made it through the summer without a single fatal crash: Beaver, Emery, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Piute, Sanpete, Uintah and Wayne.

Only three counties reached that goal last summer, Zero Fatalities spokesman John Gleason said.

"We can’t give up on reaching our goal of zero. No matter how many people are out on our roads, no matter what the traffic counts are, 50 years from now our goal will still be zero," Gleason said.

Fatal crashes nearly double during the summer, he added. As of Wednesday, 181 people had died in car crashes in 2017.

Of the fatalities over the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, most were motorists, though 11 pedestrians, 24 motorcyclists and two bicyclists were also killed.

"We’re seeing a decrease in traffic fatalities from last summer to this summer," Gleason said. "We’re down seven, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that is seven families that don’t have to go through this pain."

Human error causes as many as 94 percent of all crashes, Royce added. Even with the recent decrease in fatalities, people often obey the law out of fear of getting a ticket rather than a desire to stay safe, he said.

"Everybody has bad driving habits, one way or another," Royce said. "We’re trying to change the way people look at it and get voluntary compliance to the law."

Driving without a seat belt continues to cause the highest number of fatalities over the summer, according to Zero Fatalities.

Half of the drivers killed this summer died because they were unrestrained, 15 were speeding, eight were driving distracted, and three died while driving drowsy.

"It’s a constant reminder that we need to stay vigilant, no matter what time of year we’re in," Gleason said.


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