MURRAY, Utah, July 1, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend is known as one of the busiest and deadliest weekends of the year — a challenge the Utah Highway Patrol is trying to meet by adding 189 extra troopers to patrol Utah roadways during the holiday break.
“Were out there to make sure everybody stays safe, has a good time, and if someone makes a very stupid decision to drive while they have been drinking, we are going to have a lot of troopers out there to make sure they don’t do something horrible to someone else,” said Michael Rapich, UHP’s newest colonel.
“Over the last 10 years, two-thirds of the fatalities we have on the Fourth of July weekend have involved either an unrestrained driver or an intoxicated driver.”
AAA spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough said she expects more than 3 million residents to head out of town for the Fourth of July weekend over the Mountain West regions. Nationwide, the estimate is more than 40 million.
“Economic growth, increased disposable income, and lower prices have have spurred many residents to celebrate the Independence Day weekend by traveling,” Fairclough said.
“We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel.”
This already has been another deadly Utah summer driving season. So far the year, 126 people have died on Utah roadways. That’s on pace with the number of deaths in 2015, which was a dramatic 25 percent increase in fatalities over the two previous years.
That rate has been accelerating in recent weeks, even in the face of UDOT’s annual 100 Deadliest Days of Summer safety awareness campaign.
In just the first 15 days of the campaign, 16 people were killed in traffic-related incidents in the Beehive State, prompting the UHP to crackdown on bad drivers through the increased use of unmarked vehicles.
Gephardt Daily rode along with UHP officers as they took to the streets in their unmarked vehicles. To see and hear the kind of hazards troopers face on the road everyday, please click on the video player below.