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SALT LAKE CITY -- With many Utah residents preparing for the Pioneer Day holiday weekend, officials have cautioned motorists to be careful and to remember a few simple things that could be the difference between life and death.
Nearly a third of all fatalities on Utah roads involve the failure to buckle up, which is easily preventable.
- Improper restraint (33 fatalities)
- Speed related (24 fatalities)
- Impaired driving (21 fatalities)
- Fatigue related (3 fatalities)
- Distracted driving (5 fatalities)
On Tuesday, a heavy downpour caught several drivers by surprise, causing three car accidents and stalling traffic for hours. One driver was critically injured after being ejected from his vehicle when his pickup truck rolled on I-80.
And it is accidents like these that Utah Highway Patrol troopers say are the hardest information to deliver to families.
"When you have to go knock on that door and tell them their family member is not coming home, or their family member is in extremely critical condition," said Capt. Mark Zesiger of the Utah Highway Patrol.
Troopers say the statistics show that most fatal accidents include factors very much in a driver's control.
So far this year, Utah has had a total of 103 fatal accidents. Of those, nearly all involved controllable factors, troopers said. The biggest factors contributing to fatalities were improper restraints or failure to fasten seat belts, speed and driving under the influence.
But educational campaigns, like Utah's Zero Fatalities, have helped reduce national fatalities by 35 percent over the past 10 years.
"Safer cars, safer roads, safer drivers, those are really what is contributing to the figures," said Robert Hull, Director of Traffic and Safety at UDOT.
Accidents may be impossible to avoid, but officials say motorists often influence whether an accident is merely scary or catastrophic.