Utah law enforcement puzzled over recent ‘epidemic’ of wrong-way drivers

Mar 13, 2022, 5:18 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — It happened again. Late Saturday night, there was another head-on car crash caused by another wrong-way driver.

“Unfortunately, tonight, somebody didn’t survive this accident,” said Lt. Paul Barker with the Unified Police Department.

This crash was on Mountain View Corridor in the Kearns area, but there have been dozens in the past couple of months on Interstate 15, Bangerter Highway, Mountain View and other highways and roads.

The scary thing is it could be any of us hit.

“There’s always that chance of something crazy happening of a wrong-way driver,” Barker said. “So, just, you got to be cautious, even if you completely have the right-of-way, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, accidents still occur.”

Being alert of what’s in front of you while driving is the best way to try and avoid being hit by a wrong-way driver.

Trooper Andrew Battenfield with the Utah Highway Patrol says while you’re driving, it’s important to constantly look 10-15 seconds in front of you to give yourself time to get out of the way if you see a wrong-way driver coming.

Of course, you can only do that if you’re not distracted by something else — like your cell phone and texting.

“If you can see those headlights coming toward you, distance and time are the best things you have on your side,” Battenfield said.

UHP also wants you to call 911 if you see a wrong-way driver. That’s how one trooper knew about a wrong-way driver last month and was able to spin that car out of control before that driver possibly caused a fatal crash further down.

“I don’t know what’s causing the epidemic with wrong-ways right now, and over the years, I have seen a lot of wrong-way vehicles,” Battenfield said.

Two dead in wrong-way crash on I-15

Although many wrong-way drivers are drunk or high on drugs, many just made an innocent mistake.

“Some are elderly people who just got confused and got on the ramp the wrong way,” Battenfield said.

Whatever it is that’s going on, everyone just hopes it stops.

These types of crashes shouldn’t happen.

“They are preventable,” Battenfield said. “We all just have to pay attention to our driving and where we’re going.”

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Utah law enforcement puzzled over recent ‘epidemic’ of wrong-way drivers