ST. GEORGE — A particularly deadly Easter weekend on Utah’s roadways has prompted Utah Highway Patrol troopers to remind drivers to slow down, as speed was a factor in a number of recent crashes, and remains the leading cause of accidents that result in death across the state.
With thousands of people staying indoors to avoid COVID-19, there has been a 35% reduction in traffic along Utah highways. Even so, over Easter weekend, six people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes statewide, making it the deadliest year since five were killed in traffic-related crashes in 2013.
“This Easter weekend was the deadliest on Utah roads, even with only about 65% of the normal amount of traffic because of the coronavirus,” the Utah Highway Patrol posted on social media.
Speed was listed as a factor in the deadly crashes reported over the weekend and has remained a leading factor in all traffic-related fatalities across the state for more than two decades, according to crash data provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety.
One such crash reported shortly after noon Saturday involved an Aston Martin that was traveling at more than 100 mph as it headed east on state Route 201 in Salt Lake County and caught the rear passenger side of a semitractor-trailer.
The driver lost control and the car struck a concrete barrier before bouncing back into traffic where it hit another vehicle. The driver’s side door of the Aston Martin was torn off and the driver was ejected from the vehicle as the car made contact with the wall, killing the 25-year-old Orem man who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash prompted troopers to reiterate in the statement released shortly after the crash that troopers are “still enforcing speed limits throughout the state” and asked that drivers slow down and remove any distractions.
Early Monday morning, troopers were dispatched to a single-vehicle crash on I-15 in northern Utah. Troopers arrived to find emergency medical personnel working on a 20-year-old Idaho man who had been ejected and then pinned under the Honda Civic after the car rolled multiple times. The driver later died at the hospital.
A second fatal crash was reported Monday afternoon when troopers responded to a rollover on I-15 near mile marker 105 that sent a married couple to the Beaver Valley Hospital where the woman was subsequently pronounced dead.
A snapshot of traffic fatalities over nearly five decades
From 1970 to 2018 nearly 12,000 people have lost their lives on Utah’s roadways, which is the equivalent of roughly half of the population of Washington City.
Since 1970, the fatal crash rate per 100,000 miles traveled in Utah has dropped by more than 400%, going from 4.5 to 1.4 statewide. Despite this progress, motor vehicle crashes continue to take their toll.
Speed has been listed as the leading cause of fatal crashes in every accident summary report released by Utah DPS since at least 2000, and traffic-related fatalities remain the leading cause of death across the state and have been for more than 20 years.
The deadliest year on Utah roads took place in 1972 when 382 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. The third-deadliest year took place more than 27 years later, when in 2000 there were 373 people killed in crashes.
Speed, distraction and no seat belt were contributing factors in one of the crashes over the weekend, and Monday’s UHP post went on to say that troopers have investigated a number of high-speed crashes and fatalities since the middle of last month when offices, schools and restaurants began to shut down across the state, asking motorists to “please drive the speed limit and wear your seat belt.”
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