UHP troopers call for change after vehicle hits construction worker

May 2, 2022, 6:17 PM | Updated: Jun 10, 2022, 11:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A major spike in dangerous driving habits and deaths on roads has Utah Highway Patrol troopers and the Utah Department of Transportation calling for changes.

Just before 8 a.m. Monday, an out of control truck hit a construction worker along state Route 201 at about 8000 West.

Investigators say the worker for Utah Barricade was putting up orange barrels when the driver of a Ford Ranger lost control as he was heading eastbound, jumped the median and then went into the westbound lanes, hitting the worker.

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Troopers say he was not prepared when traffic slowed.

“Look ahead. You should always be looking about ten to 15 seconds ahead while you are driving. If you are doing that, you should be able to see traffic coming to a slow or stop in front of you, which would give you time to react,” said UHP Cpl. Mikki Vargas.

The crash is just one more that’s being added to a huge spike in dangerous behaviors on Utah roads, which seemed to have all started when the pandemic hit.

“Across the board, some really scary driving behaviors,” said UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden.

According to the most recent data from the Utah Department of Public Safety, since January 2022, troopers have seen:

  • 15 wrong-way crashes
  • 220 aggressive driving crashes
  • 300 reckless driving crashes
  • Nearly 2,000 tickets for speeds over a 100 miles per hour
  • 14 cases of brandishing a weapon at police
  • 88 deaths

And that’s in just four months.

Roden says if these trends keep up, by the end of the year, the total will pass 2021’s numbers, which were more than 2020’s numbers.

He says it takes everyone doing their part to make a difference.

“We can’t do it alone. We have to work with the public and the public’s got to do their part,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re driving courteous, driving the speed limit, and just following the law.”

UDOT is also asking drivers to pay attention and have more patience.

“It really underscores the importance for all of us to make sure that we’re putting away distractions, make sure that we’re following the speed limit,” said UDOT spokesperson Jon Gleason. “Especially when it comes to construction workers; they’re really at the mercy of people doing the right thing.”

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UHP troopers call for change after vehicle hits construction worker