SALT LAKE CITY — As we head into the deadliest time of year on Utah's roads, things aren't looking good. In just the last week, at least eight people have lost their lives.
On Saturday, at least four crashes occurred, one of which involved an officer; another in Tooele ended in one man's death.
That's why troopers are encouraging motirsts to slow down and to "Summer Safely."
"I love being a state trooper, this is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world," said Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Chris Bishop, who celebrates 10 years of service this year. He says there is only one thing he dreads about the job.
"I absolutely hate having to go to people's homes and tell them their family members have been killed in a crash," he said. "There's no easy way to do it."
And troopers aren't getting a break.
Since June 4, which is four days into what is statistically the most dangerous time of year on Utah's roads — known as the 100 deadliest days — at least eight people have died in crashes.
"When we have to go to the families, it is just devastating to see. Their life is turned upside down in a split second because of a choice someone else made," Bishop said.
He said the majority of crashes are preventable.
"We don't use the term 'accident' because a lot of times accidents don't have someone at fault. We use the term 'crash' because that is really what happened — something is causing them to not drive correctly," he said.
On Friday, speeding and aggressive drivers forced crews fighting the Bear Fire off of U.S. 6 in Carbon County.
That's why Bishop said they'll be clamping down on aggressive, distracted and reckless drivers.
"That's something we're going to take a really hard stance on," he said. "If people get stopped, they better expect they're getting a speeding ticket."
Bishop said the UHP was working with county attorneys in some jurisdictions to charge drivers who are speeding more than 30 mph over the limit with reckless driving.
"People are just driving stupid when it comes to it," he said. "There is no reason to be driving 100 mph or faster."
Despite having fewer people on the roads last year, Bishop said they saw a 45% spike in reckless speeding of 100+ mph, and a major jump in deaths during 2020's 100 deadliest days; 2019 saw 61 fatalities while 102 were reported in 2020.
Fatal crashes reported since June 4, 2021:
- June 12, 11:15 a.m. — On Droubay Road driving south on the east side of Tooele, 1 dead
- June 11, 1:21 p.m. — Eastbound Ogden Canyon (state Route 39), 1 dead, 1 injured, 1 horse died
- June 10, 5 p.m. — Eastbound on U.S. 40, 1 dead, 1 seriously injured
- June 9, 6:24 p.m. — Eastbound on U.S. 6, 1 dead, 2 injured
- June 7, 5:20 p.m. — Northbound on U.S. 189, 3 dead, 1 injured
- June 4, morning — Westbound state Route 201 at 8400 West heading south, 1 dead, 1 injured