Why are so many Utah drivers speeding down highways at more than 100 mph?
SALT LAKE CITY – It’s a problem we’ve heard about all too often lately. Utah drivers are going way too fast and oftentimes the wrong way.
The Utah Highway Patrol is trying to figure out why it’s happening and they’ve come up with a theory.
UHP troopers could probably triple the number of tickets they have been writing, but Cpl. Geoffrey Parker prefers a more educational approach.
“This is just a warning, it’s not a ticket, OK? You almost went off into the dirt there, so it was pretty close,” he said to one driver he pulled over Wednesday afternoon in Salt Lake County.
He saves tickets for when drivers do something really wrong.
Lately, that’s been happening a lot more.
“It definitely feels different. Just as we’re driving down the freeway, we have people just blow past us,” he said. “It seems people have become very comfortable with driving a lot faster.”
Since the beginning of 2022, state troopers have pulled over more than 1,300 drivers going at least 100 mph.
“That’s where we get a lot of our crashes, is just people going too fast or following too close and not paying attention,” said Cpl. Parker.
Wrong-way crashes have also increased.
Parker was first on scene at one of the worst of them.
Anyone else shocked @UTHighwayPatrol has written 1300+ tickets to drivers 100+mph since Jan 1st? What's going on out there? We rode along with a trooper today. One theory? Pandemic meant emptier roads early on but drivers haven't slowed down with "normal" back. @KSL5TV at 6. pic.twitter.com/WENTWs8YL5
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) March 30, 2022
He pointed out the spot on northbound Interstate 15, just south of South Salt Lake. “It took the life of a young lady on her wedding night from a wrong-way driver and that was just right there,” he said.
Wrong-way crashes and speeders are issues UHP administrators are trying to figure out.
They think the pandemic might have something to do with it all.
“Our roadways just saw a huge difference, and so initially, it was just that the roads emptied,” said Lt. Jalaine Hawkes.
Emptier interstates almost encouraged drivers to go faster.
However, as things started getting back to normal, many of those drivers continued to drive faster and didn’t slow down as traffic increased.
“We’re looking at a lot of people who have bad habits, and those bad habits are starting to show disturbing results,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes also noted the number of crashes has decreased, but the severity of crashes has increased.
She believes that’s because of increased speeds.
That’s why troopers like Parker have been talking to as many drivers as possible.
He wants to help and try to break those bad habits before another one turns deadly.
“Our purpose is to help you get home safe,” he said.
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