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SALT LAKE CITY -- With our long wet spring, many people have been putting their vacation plans on hold. But that's about to change during the upcoming long holiday weekend. Millions of people will hit the road, and the Utah Highway Patrol wants to make sure everyone stays safe.
Utah Traffic Fatalities
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The 4th of July is one of busiest holidays as far as travel goes, and it's also one of the most dangerous. According to Dwayne Baird, spokesman for the Dept. of Public Safety, "The fourth of July weekend is the deadliest weekend of the year here in the state of Utah."
The main reason, he says, is sheer volume. The kids are out of school, vacations are kicking in and people are hooking up the trailers and the boats and hitting the roads.
It's supposed to be a fun time, but a simple split-second mistake can change all that. So, Baird says, the UHP is planning a month-long blitz in July. "During the month we will have more than 500 extra shifts that our highway patrol troopers will be working this month and they'll be on our streets and highways. They'll be out investigating crashes and they'll be out making sure people are paying attention to what they're doing."
Of course, we are all well aware of what we should be doing while driving: buckle up, put the young kids in car seats, pay attention to everything that's going on in the lanes around you, maintain a safe distance between vehicles, and don't speed.
Holiday Weekend Fatalities
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Excessive speed and inattentiveness played a role in several major accidents during the last several days. The Department of Public Safety's impound lot is littered with vehicles no longer operable. Troopers don't want to add any more during the upcoming holiday period. "We would love for this Independence Day holiday to be fatality free," Baird says. "In other words, we have no one who dies on Utah highways."
Something else the UHP stresses if you're planning a road trip for the holiday: get plenty of rest beforehand. All that last minute planning and packing can be very tiring, and, Baird says that's not the time to get behind the wheel and begin a long drive. "Your preparation should really begin there(behind the wheel). That you're going to be safe, you're going to be attentive, that you're not going to be drowsy, that you're not going be tired because you've been up half the night the night before loading everything into your vehicles, your trailer or your truck. Make sure you get enough sleep."
Also, if you're taking the boat or trailer out for the first time in a year, make sure all systems--brakes, tire pressure, electrical-- have been checked. Baird adds, "Prepare, plan, make sure that the plan you're putting into place is safe not just for you and your family, but other people on the roadway."