UTAH, Jan. 5, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Highway Patrol reported 320 fatalities on the state’s roads in 2021, the highest number since 2002.
Of these, 81 fatalities were speed-related, 120 involved impaired driving, 74 involved an unrestrained person and 30 involved teens from 13 to 19 years old.
“Today, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras and UHP Col. Mike Rapich appealed to the public to be safer drivers in 2022,” said a news release.
Braceras told assembled reporters: “The last two years have been hard for all of us. We’ve all lived through a lot of changes and challenges. Many have experienced health issues, economic struggles, social issues, political unrest, natural disasters, the list goes on and on.
“At the same time, many of us have had to change the way we work, go to school and interact with others — it’s an understatement to say there have been a lot of changes, demands, and stresses in our lives in the last two years.
“It’s not a stretch to say this stress is also taking a toll on our roads. In 2021 we’ve seen increases across the board. Aggressive and speed-related fatalities are up, we’re seeing more impaired driving deaths, people aren’t buckling their seat belts as much.”
Utah’s seat belt use rate dropped to a five-year low, from 90.2% in 2019 to 88.2% this year. At the same time, unbuckled fatalities and serious injuries increased by 54.6% percent; 174 in 2019 to 269 in 2021.
“I know that Zero Fatalities seems like an impossible number,” Braceras said. “But Zero Fatalities on Utah’s roads is possible. To some, this goal may seem unrealistic and unattainable. Let me be the first to say, reaching Zero Fatalities will never be easy. We are facing an uphill battle. But the bottom line is there is absolutely no other answer and no other choice. Zero is the only acceptable number.”
Rapich added: “Too many Utahns are comfortable driving above the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions. UHP made over 123,000 speed-related traffic stops. Over 4,700 citations for 100 mph-plus. Aggressive driving comes in a lot of forms — none of which are acceptable. Behaviors like following too closely, weaving in and out of traffic, not signaling, driving unpredictably, or being rude/angry with others on the road can be deadly.”
There were 61 alcohol-related fatalities in 2021, Rapich said. The average BAC for DUI arrests was 0.165, more than three times the legal limit. A total of 66% of DUI suspects also had drugs on board.
“Finally, never drive distracted,” Rapich added. “This year, UHP cited over 2,000 drivers for using a mobile device while driving. It is your responsibility to make the right choice to drive alert. Please don’t wait for a crash to learn the importance of safety. Choose today to obey speed limits, buckle up, drive focused and make safety your most important priority. Choose today to stay alert and sober. We can reach Zero Fatalities if everyone took each one of these ideas seriously. We can all find ways to improve and be better drivers today.”
To encourage safer driving on our roads in 2022, Zero Fatalities will kick off a safety education campaign in middle January called, “Destinations.”