‘100 Deadliest Days of Summer’ even deadlier this year

Two vehicles involved in a head-on crash catch fire on U.S. Route 50 south of Scipio, Millard County, Utah, June 19, 2018 | File photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News,

ST. GEORGE — On average, Utah Highway Patrol troopers made one death notification per day over the course of the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer,” during which 102 people died on Utah’s highways – up from 90 a year earlier.

“It’s the worst part of our jobs,” UHP Col. Michael Rapich said Wednesday during a press conference held in Salt Lake City, adding that despite troopers’ efforts, the number of traffic fatalities this summer was up 13 percent from last year.

During the summer months, fatal crashes nearly double on the state’s roads, making them Utah’s 100 Deadliest Days of Summer.

This year Utah saw dramatic increases in motorcycle, unbuckled and aggressive driving fatalities.

Recap of “100 Deadliest Days” of summer that ends with 102 deaths on Utah highways, Sept. 5, 2018 | Image courtesy of Zero Fatalities Utah, St. George News

Labor Day weekend is considered one of the most dangerous times on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and marks the end of the Deadliest Days of Summer.

To mitigate the dangers, troopers worked 340 extra shifts over that weekend, but even so, Rapich said there were three crashes that killed five people, all three of which  involved alcohol.

“It’s been an absolutely terrible summer on Utah roads,” John Gleason, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

In 2017, traffic crash deaths were 43 percent higher during the deadliest days than the rest of the year, and over a 10-year period, from 2007 to 2016, more than 900 people lost their lives on Utah roadways, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Speeding remains the leading cause of fatal crashes, accounting for more than 40 percent of all crashes across the state. During the 100 Deadliest Days it contributed to 26 crashes, more than 25 percent of the total, while unrestrained deaths went down, from 25 deaths in 2017 to 16 this year.

Even so, UDOT officials said that many of the deaths  were the result of not buckling up.

More than 30 percent of all fatalities involved an unrestrained occupant, according to UHP, and 13 percent of Utahns are still not buckling up.

The numbers do not get any better in Washington County, which had the third-highest number of unrestrained occupants killed in crashes across the state last year.

UDOT and UHP challenged Utahns to “do a better job with zero texting, zero distractions, zero driving under the influence, zero speeding and zero unbuckled passengers,” Rapich said.

Since the beginning of this year’s 100 Deadliest Days, UHP troopers have worked hundreds of overtime hours, made nearly 53,000 traffic enforcement contacts for speeding and seat belts and have arrested hundreds of drivers for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Deadliest Days of Summer fast facts

  • The odds of dying from a bear attack are 1 in 2.1 million. Your chance of surviving in an unbuckled car crash is 1 in 2.
  • Human error is the reason for 94 percent of all fatal car crashes.
  • Drivers under the age of 25 are involved in 42 percent of all drowsy driving crashes.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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