EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Utah seventh highest for phone-related crashes, UHP urges driver caution as back-to-school season begins

Aug 25, 2023, 3:02 PM | Updated: 8:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Law enforcement agencies are urging drivers to be aware of pedestrians and exercise caution while driving in school zones as children go back to school.

As the back-to-school season begins, from Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 276 extra shifts are being worked by 17 different Utah law enforcement agencies statewide, to protect pedestrians UHP announced in a release.

“We recognize the importance of pedestrian safety, especially during the back-to-school season,” Amy Winkler, Vulnerable Roadway Users Program Manager at the Utah Highway Safety Office, said. “Pedestrians are some of our most vulnerable roadway users, and because we all share the road, we must look out for each other. We want to make sure our students, parents, and community members get to their destination safely.”

Law enforcement officers will be strategically positioned near schools and other highly trafficked areas, especially during drop-off and pick-up times.

This year alone, 25 fatalities on Utah roads were pedestrians or bicyclists. Pedestrian fatalities typically increase during the fall season but are 100 percent preventable when drivers and pedestrians prioritize safety.

Utah Highway Patrol gave the following tips for pedestrians and drivers to stay safe.

Tips for pedestrians

  • When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers
  • Distracted walking is just as dangerous as distracted driving – pay attention
  • Never assume right of way – Always look for cars in all directions
  • Be visible – do everything you can to make sure drivers see you
  • Do not cross an intersection diagonally unless it is specifically designed for this

Tips for drivers

  • Look for pedestrians and expect them to be at corners and intersections
  • Never pass a car that has stopped in a travel lane until it is determined whether that vehicle has stopped for a pedestrian
  • Be alert and make eye contact with pedestrians
  • In the presence of a crossing guard, vehicles must wait for all persons, including the guard, to completely clear the road before proceeding
  • DO NOT drive distracted or impaired

Utah also has a resource to find the safest route to walk to school, that resource is available here.  

A recent study ranks Utah the seventh  highest in the U.S. for phone-related car crashes.

Zinda Law Group, a personal injury law firm, analyzed all 50 states to determine the total number of fatal vehicle crashes between 20172021 and the number of occupants involved in fatal vehicle crashes caused by mobile phones over the same period.  

For more safety tips, visit https://pedestrianmyths.utah.gov/

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Utah seventh highest for phone-related crashes, UHP urges driver caution as back-to-school season begins