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Road fatalities down, men less likely to wear seat belts

Road fatalities down, men less likely to wear seat belts

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's been 10 years, but Kathi Allred relives her husband's untimely death every single day.

All too often, she can also hear the cries of her then-12-year-old daughter, missing her dad.

"When you wake up to that empty pillow, you miss him every day," she said in a video recording released to the public on Thursday. "You don't ever think you're going to have to face that. Intense loneliness immediately sets in and how do you move on? How do you move on without him?"

Because the largest number of individuals killed on Utah roads in 2011 were men — husbands, fathers and grandfathers — between the ages of 25 and 69, the latest Zero Fatalities promotional material is aimed at getting them to understand what it means to die in a crash and leave family members behind.

family members and their loved ones that may last an entire lifetime."

Utah road fatalities
2011 (percentages compared to 2006)
233 deaths
  • Lowest number since 1974
  • 20 percent drop

30 percent drop in fatigue-related
28 percent drop in distracted driving

"When they're in their vehicle, they are king of the cab. … They do what they want to do," said John Njord, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation. "When they choose not to buckle themselves up, and they have a fatal crash, there are reverberations that occur with

In all, 233 individuals died on Utah roads in 2011, which is the lowest number since 1974 and a 20 percent drop since 2006. Fatigue-related fatalities dropped by 30 percent over the same time and distracted driving- related deaths dropped 28 percent. Impaired driving-related fatalities, however, nearly doubled from 2006 to 2011.

Njord said the portion of individuals who died in 2011 due to a lack of seat belt use, 30 percent, is "staggering."

The latest statisticsnreveal that a person is more likely to survive a potentially fatal crash if they use a seat belt, he said. "The odds are in our favor."

Utah has an 89.2 percent seat belt usage rate, yet the 11 percent who do not buckle up accounted for more than 30 percent of the traffic fatalities in 2011.

"If every person buckled up every time, we could have eliminated more than 530 traffic fatalities in the last five years alone," said Utah Highway Patrol Col. Daniel Fuhr. He said even one fatality is too many.

"Our goal is that nobody dies," he said.

During four of nine holiday weekends in 2011 there were no traffic fatalities in Utah. Fuhr said the success is evidence of law enforcement taking it "one day at a time."

If every person buckled up every time, we could have eliminated more than 530 traffic fatalities in the last five years alone.

–- Daniel Fuhr, UHP

Men, he said, give troopers all kinds of excuses for not wearing a seat belt, including that it shows weakness in their driving ability, or that they're "tough enough" to handle whatever happens.

"If you want to talk about being tough, let's talk about the ramifications for not wearing your seat belt," Fuhr said. "You're going to die on the roadway. A state trooper is going to go to your home … ask that single mother now, how tough it is going to be to raise these children on her own, fend for the family on her own and take care of everything all on her own. That's tough."

If her dad had survived, Ashli Allred Hendricks said her life "would be tremendously different." Aaron Allred was 39 years old when his vehicle collided with a dump truck and killed him instantly. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the July 25, 2001, crash.

"It's a simple thing that takes two seconds and is going to save everyone around you from heartache and grief," Hendricks said. "I wish I could say, 'I love you and I miss you.' That's all there is."

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Wendy Leonard


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