Dept. of Public Safety reports deadly year on Utah’s roads

Dec 20, 2021, 12:47 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday is the first official day of winter, storms are in the forecast and Christmas is at the end of the week, leading to a potentially dangerous time on Utah’s roads in a year already marked with some difficult facts about the way we drive.

KSL’s Dan Spindle wanted to break down the year-end traffic data that show some troubling trends. First, the total number of crashes for 2021.

Utah is sitting at 55,000+ crashes with less than two weeks to go.

The most recent five-year average lands around 60,700 so fewer crashes can be seen as a good thing — especially considering the fact that tens of thousands of drivers move to Utah every year.

Close to 24,000 people have been hurt in crashes this year, which will end up close to the five-year average.

The official tally is 25,469 for recent years, meaning approximately 70 people are injured every day, which is nothing to celebrate.

Even more concerning is that for the first time, more than 300 people died in crashes on Utah’s roads this year — a 12% increase from the five-year average of 268.

That means the thousands of crashes we do see every month are deadlier than ever before.

So what are the possible reasons for the spike in fatalities?

Look at the crash categories — driver age and experience are the largest factors, with nearly 20,000 being either teen or elderly drivers.

This week is critical because more than 7,300 crashes already happened around different holidays.

In the categories of driver behavior, more than 6,300 crashes involved speeding this year and 5,000 crashes had distracted drivers.

I know sometimes it feels like you have no control when you’re on the freeway, but unsafe speeds and distractions definitely can be eliminated.

Can you believe that this year people were not wearing seatbelts in more than 1,600 crashes?

We can all do better to stay safe behind the wheel.

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Dept. of Public Safety reports deadly year on Utah’s roads