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Fatalities Up in Utah in First Half of 2007

Fatalities Up in Utah in First Half of 2007

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The number of people who have died on Utah roads was up 17 percent in the first half of 2007.

Crashes killed 137 people from January through June, 20 more than during the same period a year ago.

"It goes back to the same issue," said Robert Hull, safety director at the Utah Department of Transportation. "A significant number of people are not wearing a seat belt."

Hull said about 55 percent of people who die on Utah roads are not wearing seat belts. The number of single-car fatalities has also increased to 64 from 50 in 2006.

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Nigbur said driver fatigue has also been a contributing factor. Interstates 15, 70 and 80 are major arteries for people traveling the country.

"There's no good reason as to why how many people have died," Nigbur said. "Next year could be 50 percent higher or 50 percent lower."

Eight illegal immigrants were killed in April when their Chevrolet Suburban rolled in southeastern Utah, a month that had more than twice as many fatalities -- 35 -- compared to 17 in April 2006.

Utah had 274 traffic fatalities in 2006. The state is trailing that pace so far in 2007, but fatal accidents usually increase in July and August.

"That's worrisome," Hull said.

Nigbur said the state doesn't want any traffic fatalities.

"Obviously, we haven't reached our goal of zero fatalities," he said. "But (zero) has to be the goal, whether we reach it or not."

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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