ROAD TO ZERO

2021 Off To Deadly Start For Auto-Pedestrian Crashes

Apr 5, 2021, 9:37 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — On the road to zero fatalities, Utah has hit a bump. The first three months of 2021 have seen more crashes and deaths involving pedestrians than the first three months of the last nine years.

“It’s unbelievable and it’s far too many people,” said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation.

Gleason said 17 people have been killed in pedestrian crashes so far this year. Last year, six people were killed in that same period, and if you look at the first quarter of the year for the last nine years, the average number of auto pedestrian deaths was around 10.

“It’s troubling, not only because of what’s happened, but what it might signify going forward because we’re heading into the warmer months right now,” Gleason said. “More people are going to be out on the roads, more people are going to be out walking, so there’s greater opportunity there for these types of crashes.”

The same was true for total crashes involving pedestrians. There have been 219 crashes so far this year, 29 more than last year and the year before. The closest year to it within the last 10 years was the first quarter of 2014, which saw 206 crashes and 16 deaths.

Those numbers don’t include the many survivors of crashes whose lives have sometimes turned upside down.

“It changed her life completely,” said Kristie Banks, cousin of Nina Jacobs, who was hit by a car on July 4, 2015.

“Every Fourth of July, Nina has a new meaning for independence,” Banks said, as she sat next to Jacobs on their couch in the home where they both live in Roy.

Pictures in a photo album show Jacobs bruised and beat after the crash on 500 West in Bountiful. The driver left Jacobs in the road and has never been found or come forward.

“I can’t imagine how people can do what they do,” Banks said. “To hit somebody and leave them, it changes that person’s life.”

Over the years, Jacobs had to endure many surgeries. She still walks with a limp and is blind in one eye.

Banks said she was born deaf and continues to struggle to communicate. She’s no longer able to go out on her own.

“She’s a miracle. We’re very fortunate to have her in our lives,” Banks said.

“If you look at the cause of many of these crashes it’s failure to yield,” Gleason said.

He said UDOT doesn’t know why there’s been a recent uptick in crashes involving pedestrians, but he expects with the current trend of COVID-19 and the change in seasons, more people will be out on the roads and sidewalks in the coming weeks and months. He urged drivers and pedestrians to put away distractions.

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2021 Off To Deadly Start For Auto-Pedestrian Crashes