ROAD TO ZERO

UDOT, DPS reminding drivers to be safe this Labor Day weekend

Sep 1, 2022, 2:17 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm

SANDY, Utah — As the state nears the end of the “100 Deadliest Days,” a period from Memorial Day to Labor Day where traffic fatalities almost double on Utah roads, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Department of Public Safety are reminding drivers to be safe this holiday weekend.

Utah road crash survivors also shared their stories as the state continues on the Road to Zero Fatalities.

The Jackson family was heading to Wyoming for a backpacking trip last year when a car traveling in the opposite direction tried to pass a semi-truck at highway speeds.

Instead, that car struck the Jackson family’s vehicle head-on.

The impact, both physically and emotionally, is something they still carry with them.

Twins Owen and Cameron Jackson were riding in the car with their mother, father and another friend when their lives forever changed.

“The crash was July 14. My memory starts July 27,” Owen said.

This time last year, the Jackson family was in a very different place in the early days of recovering.

Owen, instantly unconscious, had a seizure, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and was in a medically induced coma for nine days.

His brother Cameron remembers a lot more.

“Seeing the car coming towards us, I remember seeing my dad slam on the brakes. I remember my mom screaming, and that’s when I realized we got in a car crash and this is real,” Cameron said.

Their parents also suffered major injuries, and the family’s van caught fire twice.

Despite all that, they are here, alive and recovering,

That’s not the case for 206 people, who, as of Thursday, have died on Utah roads this year.

Of the 206 total fatalities, 96 fatalities have happened within the 100 Deadliest Days.

“One decision. One moment. A lifetime of impact by one individual,” said Cpl. Michael Rapich with the Utah Highway Patrol.

Of the summer roadway fatalities, four have been teens.

A variety of factors have contributed to these outcomes, including speeding, drowsy drivers, distracted driving and not buckling up.

“Utah’s seatbelt law has dropped to a five-year low. Ninety percent in 2019 to 88% this year,” UDOT spokesperson John Gleason said.

They say the road to zero fatalities isn’t going to change itself.

“This is something that is going to take all of us,” Rapich said.

The Department of Public Safety says impaired driving is something that is a decision — not an accident or mistake.

Last year, officers arrested over 10,000 people for impaired driving. They said this year, they’re on track to do the same thing.

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UDOT, DPS reminding drivers to be safe this Labor Day weekend