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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- This southern Utah city is setting the national pace for population growth. Now comes an unwanted statistic: 700 vehicle wrecks so far this year.
"People need to slow down, back off a little bit and concentrate more on their driving," said police Sgt. Craig Harding.
As of Wednesday afternoon, police had responded to 712 vehicle crashes so far this year.
He said this is the most accidents for this time of year in the history of the department, although 2006 numbers for comparison were not immediately available. Harding didn't return a call from The Associated Press seeking more information.
The crashes do not include the fender-benders and minor parking lot collisions that go unreported, he said.
Jared Lucas, office manger for Dealer Collision Center, said last month was a record month for his tow trucks. He said the volume of work is up more than 25 percent from last year.
On Tuesday, crash No. 697 involved a maroon Suburban that apparently ran a stop sign and was struck by a white Dodge Caravan, Harding said. The driver of the Surburban was cited for failing to stop. There were no serious injuries.
Later in the afternoon, a 23-year-old man on a moped rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee when traffic abruptly stopped for a vehicle that had reportedly made a U-turn. The moped driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, said motorcycle officer Wade Johnson.
Harding said distractions are largely to blame for most traffic accidents. National statistics show that as many as two-thirds of crashes are preventable, he said.
"At some point, the public has to take responsibility for their driving and the safety of the streets," Harding said.
------ Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)