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Jed Boal ReportingPolice across the state want us to play it safe this New Year's Eve, especially if a storm is brewing. Utah Highway Patrol troopers will skip the parties and step up the patrols to keep the roads safe.
The UHP has done a lot to reduce the number of drunken driving deaths in recent decades. They put plenty of troopers on the roads during holiday weekends and they get help from everyone. 80 Utah agencies will blitz the roads with extra officers tonight.
New Year's Day is the deadliest for drunken driving crashes in America and troopers like Kelly Kramer aim to take dangerous drivers off the road. But the state troopers are also concerned about seeing snow on the roads.
Sgt. Phillip Waters, Utah Highway Patrol: “Storm clouds on a holiday weekend, it could get ugly tonight."
Troopers have raced from crash to crash most of the week.
Trooper Kelly Kramer, Utah Highway Patrol: “It's been a very tough week. We've had a lot of crashes, and as you know, we've had a lot of deaths on our highways this week."
Since Sunday Utah roads have seen more than a half-dozen deaths. Last weekend there were 1,100 crashes during the long storm. And it's been very dangerous for troopers handling pull-overs.
But generally the troopers consider most of us allies on a night like tonight. We can all help out. If we're out driving and we spot somebody weaving, troopers say to pick up the phone and tip them off.
Sgt. Phillip Waters, Utah Highway Patrol: “Either on 911 or star-11; that goes to the highway patrol dispatch and we're able to catch them before they crash or hurt someone else."
During the next 24 hours slick roads could stretch the force thin; they don't want to balance DUI enforcement with crashes.
Trooper Kelly Kramer, Utah Highway Patrol: “We get the snowstorms like we've had in the last few days, our manpower is relegated to handling crashes only."
Utah had the second-lowest rate of drunken driving deaths last year. Over the last 20 years drunken driving deaths have decreased more than 70-percent.