ROAD TO ZERO

UHP to increase enforcement during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Apr 1, 2024, 1:35 PM | Updated: Apr 9, 2024, 5:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday marks the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic across the county, and Utah is no exception.

In 2023, 21 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. According to state data, of the 52 fatalities on Utah roads so far this year, two have been caused by distracted driving.

“Distracted driving is actually underreported when it comes to the statistics and the numbers that we look at,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol.

Despite that, Roden said distracted driving has increased over the last few years.

According to Roden, distractions can be physical, visual, or even mental. They can range from eating and drinking to doing makeup to adjusting your radio or GPS. There are even distractions outside of the car.

But the most prevalent distraction is using a cell phone to not only call or text but also check social media.

“An average text takes about five seconds of your eyes off the roadway, and in that at 55 mph, in that five seconds, you’re going to travel over the length of a football field blind,” Roden said.

Here are some tips from UHP to keep in mind: If you need to send a text, pull over or have a passenger be a designated texter.

Ultimately, “it’s up to the driver to know what type of distractions they are most prone to,” Roden said.

Roden said that from April 1 to April 14, UHP, along with 39 other agencies across the state, will increase enforcement, working an extra 365 shifts to help spot distracted driving.

“We’ve tried to make sure this is data-driven at areas where we’ve seen problems with distracted driving. That’s where we place those shifts,” he said.

Roden is urging drivers to put away those distractions.

“Hopefully, we can change some behaviors by raising awareness in April, but hopefully, we will see it last year-round,” he said.

For more tips to keep in mind, click here.

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UHP to increase enforcement during Distracted Driving Awareness Month