Third wrong-way crash in four days part of troubling trend on Utah roads, UHP says

Dec 14, 2023, 1:03 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A wrong-way crash that left one person dead and two injured in Parleys Canyon is part of a troubling trend on Utah’s roads, state troopers said Thursday.

UHP said it seems wrong-way driving happens in spurts, with wrong-way drivers being spotted over the summer and multiple times over the last four days.

“Always be scanning ahead: Scanning early,” state trooper Bradly Dye said.

Dye said they took several calls Wednesday night reporting a silver pickup truck driving the wrong way in Parleys Canyon.

Three cars were impacted.

“That wrong-way vehicle ended up impacting a white pickup truck, and then that white pickup truck was hit by another red SUV,” Dye said.

(Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV) (Aubrey Shafer, KSL TV)

The driver of the wrong-way pickup truck died on the scene and troopers said the other two drivers were taken to the hospital and are expected to recover.

“The cause of the accident is still under investigation,” Dye said.

Third wrong-way incident this week

On Sunday and Monday, troopers intervened in two separate incidents where drivers were going the wrong way on Utah roads.

“Law enforcement was in the right place at the right time to get these vehicles stopped before this situation spiraled and ended in a tragedy,” said UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden.

In both these cases, troopers moved in to stop them.

One of the crashes happened in Weber County, where a trooper was trying to stop a speeding car.

Investigators say that car flipped around and was going the wrong way. KSL TV was told the trooper suffered moderate injuries and is recovering.

The other one happened on U.S. Highway 40 in Summit County, when a deputy decided the right thing to do was intercept the wrong-way driver.

“Both of those situations could have ended much worse… not just for a crash that could have happened, but for the officers as well,” Roden said.

All this comes at a time when holiday travel is settling in, and drivers have a crucial role to play.

“There is going to be a lot of celebration — a lot of festivities — that may include alcohol. Make sure you have that plan in place before those festivities start to have a sober ride home,” Roden said.

While drivers cannot predict wrong-way drivers, defensive driving is something drivers can exercise on the road.

Dye said looking out 15-30 seconds ahead can allow time to react if seeing a wrong way driver.

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Third wrong-way crash in four days part of troubling trend on Utah roads, UHP says