‘100 Deadliest Days of Summer’ sees dramatic drop in fatalities across Utah’s roadways

Scene of a fatal head-on collision on state Route 18 near Brookside, Utah, Oct. 16, 2018 | File photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —The deadliest 100 days on Utah’s roadways has come to an end with a significant drop in the number of people killed in traffic crashes this year.

A Chevrolet Monte Carlo is badly damaged following a fatal collision that police say possibly involved road rage, American Fork, Utah, June 1, 2017 | File photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Last weekend marked the end of the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer,” which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

During the 100 Deadliest Days, there is typically a spike in the number of traffic fatalities. In fact, fatal crash numbers nearly double compared to the rest of the year — averaging nearly one death per day during the summer months.

This year, however, there were 41 fewer fatalities than reported last year during the same period — down from 103 in 2018 to 62 this year, according to a statement from the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Additionally, this was the steepest drop in the number of fatal crashes during the three-month period since 2011, when there were 88 killed in traffic crashes.

Utah Highway Patrol Colonel Michael Rapich said the drop is thanks to the efforts put forth by troopers and dispatchers across the state as well as Utah drivers who “made good decisions to buckle up, slow down, put their cell phone down,” and those who chose not to make drinking a part of driving.

Authorities from UHP, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Transportation spoke on the matter during a press conference held in Salt Lake City on Friday.

In 2018, Memorial Day and Labor Day saw the highest spike in traffic deaths of any other holiday weekend | Image courtesy of Zero Fatalities Utah, St. George News

Despite the progress made over the last year, UHP authorities recognize there are still too many lives lost on the state’s roadways.

The 62 fatalities represent “62 tragedies — 62 families shattered,” Rapich said at the press conference.

“Even one life lost is too many,” Rapich previously told St. George News.

The departments voiced their commitment to continue their efforts until the number of lives lost in crashes is zero.

For over a decade, the department’s education program, Zero Fatalities Utah, has made efforts to educate drivers across the beehive state about the dangers of not buckling up, or driving aggressively, distracted or impaired.

Research has shown that 94% of all crashes are caused by human error, and the top contributing factors involve distraction, speeding, aggressive driving, drowsiness, impairment and not buckling up, according to Zero Fatalities Utah.

Moreover, since 80% of crashes take place under clear skies and on dry roads, experts believe that drivers become complacent when traveling under ideal conditions, making them more likely to make mistakes and take risks they may have otherwise avoided under poor conditions.

Motorists also drive at greater speeds during the summer when there are more RV’s and large equipment traveling on the roadways that come with larger blind spots and require greater stopping distances.

Even though the deadliest days of summer are over, Rapich urged motorists to still keep safe driving habits at the forefront of their minds all throughout the year.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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