UHP Adding Extra Patrols For Fourth Of July Weekend
Jul 3, 2020, 6:15 PM | Updated: 8:41 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with the Utah Highway Patrol said drivers hitting the road this Fourth of July weekend will see extra state troopers on Utah’s roads.
They’re focused on getting drunk drivers off the road, and putting the brakes on aggressive driving. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic cut down the number of cars on the road, state troopers have seen a surge in triple-digit speeders.
“The roads have been less traveled. So they’re more open,” said trooper Michael Gordon.
Not long after the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order went into effect in March, troopers started pulling over more drivers for speeding.
“An extreme increase of vehicles traveling at excessive rates of speed,” said Gordon.
Under COVID-19 restrictions, interstate traffic was initially cut in half. Gordon said they’ve seen an unprecedented number of drivers hitting speeds well over 100 mph.
“The roads are open, so people think that they can go faster if they’re in a rush to get somewhere,” he said.
Since January, troopers have written 2,500 tickets for speeds faster than 100 mph, compared to 1,800 citations in each of the past two years. That’s a 25% increase.
“Driving 100 mph is pretty much just not acceptable for any reason,” said Gordon.
If drivers have to take evasive action for any reason, Gordon said they cannot control their cars at that speed.
Gordon has pulled over a handful of drivers going more than 100 mph, and many others driving over 90 mph. The most common excuse?
“They just didn’t realize that they were going 100 miles an hour,” said Gordon, which he found hard to believe, because when troopers put on their lights and sirens, they know they’re going pretty fast.
So this weekend, dozens of troopers will give up part of the holiday with their families to help keep everybody else safe.
“It’s a big travel weekend for everyone, even with the restrictions with COVID-19. People are still getting out on the road,” Gordon said.
UHP officials said they’re adding 240 extra shifts across the state, to increase patrols for DUIs, speeding and distracted driving.
“So you will see an increase of troopers on the road looking, and hopefully removing, impaired drivers off the road to keep the other motorists safe,” Gordon said.
UHP officials said they understand everybody wants to get out and enjoy themselves, especially this year, when we’ve all lived through restrictions that have kept us away from so many of our friends and family. But don’t drink and drive.
“We just want to make sure that people know that we’ll be out there, looking for impaired drivers,” said Gordon. “So we’re going to encourage everyone that if you’re going to go out and celebrate, make sure you have a good plan and a safe way to get home.”