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SALT LAKE CITY — Memorial Day weekend traffic started to pick up Friday afternoon, and it's only going to get worse.
State officials warn drivers to be safe as Memorial Day weekend kicks off the deadliest days on Utah's roads. They say they usually see a huge jump in traffic fatalities over the three-day weekend.
The Utah Department of Transportation advises people to leave by 3 p.m. and expect things to really start to slow down by then. They invite Utahns to check the UDOT traffic app or udottraffic.utah.gov for the most recent conditions.
But as you leave, it's crucial to remember just how dangerous Utah's roads can be starting Friday.
“Typically from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend we see a 35 percent increase in traffic fatalities across the state,” said UDOT Spokesman John Gleason.
The Utah Highway Patrol says it's a big working weekend for troopers and has added 230 more shifts and DUI checkpoints.
The next 100 days are known to be the deadliest days on Utah's roads, according to Utah's driving record. The biggest reason for this alarming number is speeding.
"Crashes tend to be a lot worse because higher speeds cause more damage," said Jared Cornia, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper. "It's a called the speed limit for a reason. It's not a speed suggestion."
To help remind people of the dangers, UDOT is posting the fatality count on its digital signs.
“It's going to say 'Zero fatalities in X number of days,' ” Gleason said. “We're hoping to get that (number of days) up to a very high number.”
Typically from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend we see a 35 percent increase in traffic fatalities across the state.
–UDOT spokesman John Gleason
So far this year, there's been 64 deaths, which is 13 more than this time last year.
“The sad fact here is that most of these crashes could have been avoided, could have been prevented,” Gleason said.
On average during the "100 Deadliest Days,” 96 people are killed on Utah roads — nearly one fatality every day.
“We're asking everyone that's out on the roads this weekend, especially with holiday travel, to just be aware,” he said.
Starting now, you can help put an end to this deadly trend by slowing down and tossing any aggressive driving out the window, another big problem UHP sees during holiday weekends.
And something that should go without saying as you hop in the car to enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend is to buckle up.
"We still see a shocking number of people that are killed each year by just not buckling up,” Gleason said.
UDOT said it is taking a break from most of the construction projects in the state to help ease up on traffic problems.
Contributing: Jed Boal