ROAD TO ZERO

Zero Fatalities Kicks Off ‘Summer Safely’ Campaign

May 27, 2021, 6:20 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Zero Fatalities kicked off its summer campaign to encourage Utahns to “Summer Safely” out on the roads.

It’s an updated campaign focused on safe driving habits.

“Summer Safely” marks the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when traffic fatalities nearly double. 

Four years ago, Joshua Holmstead was almost one of those fatalities. 

“I spend a lot of time behind the wheel. I just plan ahead,” he said. 

Holmstead drives 30 to 50,000 miles a year for work. His company makes him take defensive driving classes, but he didn’t think much of that training until he needed it on State Route 35 near Duchesne in July 2017.

“I remember thinking, that car is going fast just by the way the car was behaving,” he said. 

Holmstead’s dashcam was rolling as he lost sight of the car on the curvy road.

When it reappeared“Her right-hand right-side wheels went off the side and I thought she was going to roll off into the bushes,” he said. 

The driver over-corrected and slid sideways toward his truck at 60 mph. 

Joshua Holmstead shared his powerful story about a near-miss on the highway. (KSL TV)

“I had about a second and a half to decide what to do,” he said. “It was muscle memory from the (defensive driving) class.” 

He hit the brakes and turned the wheel just enough to clip the car and rip off the rear bumper. 

“It went right through the fog lamp and stayed there,” Holmstead said. 

He later found out the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

Both cars were totaled, but neither driver was seriously hurt. 

“I was angry because I thought, that person being out of control nearly killed me,” Holmstead said. “It was really scary.” 

Once he calmed down and talked to the other driver, he realized they were both lucky to be alive.

He believes the woman was in a hurry and lost focus. 

“When you’re driving a vehicle, it’s a multi-ton wrecking ball, and one moment of inattention can really hurt people,” he said. 

Over the last five years, on average, 90 people have died on Utah roads during the summer.

The Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State Troopers want everyone to enjoy the summer and remember that safe driving habits save lives. 

“Plan ahead, know what those consequences can be — not just for you, but for your friends, your family and everybody else out there down the roadway,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol. 

More than 90% of all crashes involve human error: distracted driving, speeding, exhaustion, impairment and not buckling up. 

“We could see higher than usual traffic and we all have to prepare for that. That means driving safe, driving focused, driving alert,” said John Gleason with UDOT for Zero Fatalities. 

So far this year, state troopers have seen a 45% surge in citations for speeds in excess of 100 mph. They can’t exactly explain why, but the excessive speeding surged during the pandemic when there was less traffic on the road.

Traffic officials said there was no excuse for those reckless speeds. 

“I think people tend to think, ‘I did this yesterday and I can get away with it today,’ so they rationalize a lot of their behaviors,” said Roden. 

Holmstead said he no longer pushes the speed limit because of that crash four years ago. 

“I will not set the cruise over the speed limit,” he said. “I’m the guy puttering along in the right lane, or middle lane, that everyone is passing left and right because I want that extra second or two.” 

He makes sure that he has extra time and space to react if something goes wrong. 

“If we can just get people to slow down and realize that these vehicles are potentially deadly, with just a moment of inattention, I think we could make a real impact, but people are in a real hurry,” Holmstead said. 

KSL 5 TV Live

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Zero Fatalities Kicks Off ‘Summer Safely’ Campaign