Fatal traffic accidents on the rise this year

Utah Highway Patrol trooper conducting a traffic stop along 1000 West, Logan

LOGAN — According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the number of fatal accidents are up this year and troopers are concerned those numbers may continue to rise during the fall and winter months.

UHP Lt. Lee Perry said there are eight-to-10 fatalities a year in Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties. This year, troopers have already investigated 10 fatal accidents and there have been additional fatalities, investigated by other agencies.

“So anymore from here on out, I’m going to go above the average,” said Perry. “As a state, we are 22 or 23 fatalities above average right now. So we are seeing a trend in the wrong direction and we don’t want to see that. We want to go the other direction.”

Of those fatal accidents involving vehicles, troopers report half of the victims are not wearing seat belts.

Perry said impaired drivers are still one of the major causes of fatal accidents but impairment isn’t just caused by alcohol and illegal drugs.

“We are seeing people who are impaired by over-the-counter medications and prescribed medications,” said Perry. “Those are every bit as dangerous and so we are telling people, ‘you have got to be careful when you are taking medications, whether it is over-the-counter or prescribed from a doctor, you need to know if it’s impairing you or not’ because that is a huge problem we are seeing.”

Troopers also report seeing drivers being impatient behind the wheel, driving too fast and not being courteous to other drivers.

Perry said accidents are also being caused by tired and fatigued drivers and those continuing to use electronic devises.

“Whether it is cell phones, computers or something like that,” said Perry. “We passed a law in the legislature and enhanced it this last year and we still see people out there trying to get away with using their cell phones, texting, sending messages and the law now says, no manual manipulation of that device.”

The number of calls, reporting drivers using their cell phones while driving has also increased since the new law went into effect.

Perry said he encourages drivers to continue to call 911 if they see any type of suspicious action.

<hr /><p style=”text-align: center;”>will@cvradio.com

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