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UHP, 10 other states, enforcing 'fatal five' on I-80

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:50pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Quick quiz for Utah drivers; When you see a Utah Highway Patrol car on the interstate, what do you do? Slow down or speed up?

If you're smiling, you're probably saying speed up. If you're being realistic, you most likely answered with slow down.

That answer is exactly why Utah Highway Patrol troopers are teaming up with the 10 other states in America that share I-80. The basic premise is that if you see more patrol cars, chances are you won't speed as much.

For the next eight days, we're all going to see a lot more patrol cars. Utah is planning on having 125 extra troopers working overtime shifts to patrol I-80.

"The whole idea is more cops, more stops," said Colonel Daniel Fuhr with the Utah Highway Patrol.

He's hoping that leads to fewer crashes and fewer deaths.

"Really, just about every single fatal crash that we handle has to do with one thing," Fuhr said. "It's the person's compliance to the laws."

The UHP calls those laws "the fatal five," the five tops things they say causes fatal crashes: Speeding, not wearing seatbelts, driving under the influence, distracted driving and drowsy driving.

"It's good to put as many resources out as possible," said Cpl. Todd Johnson.


Johnson has been with the Utah Highway Patrol for 24 years and has seen too many of these types of crashes.

"You do shake your head and wonder," Johnson said, "if they had taken that two or three seconds to put their seatbelts on, what a difference it would have made?"

"Seventy-percent of people who die on Utah roadways are not wearing a seatbelt. Absolutely preventable," Fuhr said. "Speeding, preventable. Drowsy driving? Preventable. Distracted driving, texting and all that? Preventable. Drunk driving? That is absolutely preventable."

The nationwide effort is called the I-80 Cross-Country Crackdown.

"So, if you think about that, just about every one of those things is preventable. And if people obeyed the laws and do those things, we would have zero fatalities in the state of Utah," Fuhr said.

In all, the state is expecting to spend roughly $16,000 in overtime on this eight-day project.

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