Utah Highway Patrol to crack down on distracted driving over weekend

Apr 8, 2021, 2:51 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:29 pm
distracted driving...

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Highway Patrol (UHP), along with 20 other agencies, will crack down on distracted driving this week through a special enforcement effort that will last until Monday morning. The agency will fill an extra 127 overtime shifts solely focused on distracted driving, paying officers through a federal grant. 

Officers will patrol in marked cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles on both freeways and side streets throughout Salt Lake and Utah counties. 

The move comes as a response to nearly 5,000 crashes in Utah during 2020 that were directly attributed to distracted driving, according to the UHP. When it comes to individual circumstances, Lt. Wade Breur said he’s seen it all. 

“Like balancing their whole meal in front of them,” Breur told “One time I saw an individual using a bowl of cereal, like balancing it between their knees while driving down the road, eating it while they’re steering with their knees with this bowl of cereal in front of them.”

Of the 4,927 crashes in 2020 caused by distracted driving, 19 resulted in death. In 2021, the agency reported 1,115 crashes so far with one fatality. 

The main culprit: Texting while driving 

Although drivers become distracted from almost anything, Breur said using a cellphone — specifically, texting while driving — is the number one distraction. In preparation for the special enforcement weekend, he said he counted the number the distracted drivers he saw on Monday while driving from Murray to Point of the Moutain. 

He counted a total of seven. 

The giveaway? Many of the drivers had their arms near their waists with their heads down while driving — clearly looking at something in their hands, he said. 

Of the nearly 5,000 distracted driving crashes reported in 2020, about 32% were teen drivers. Of those, 32% of the drivers were distracted by their cellphone. 

UHP Col. Michael Rapich said this may be because drivers get overly confident in their abilities to text while driving if they do it successfully once.

“‘It’s OK. I did it this time. I did it next time, and there’s no problems,'” he said drivers tell themselves. “Until there is. And when there is, it’s horrible. And bad things happen, destructive things happen and people get hurt violently.”

Distracted driving reports soar amid COVID-19

Although distracted driving has been a growing problem over the last decade, researchers warn it may be getting worse as more Americans are staying at home and working online. 

As millions of driving adults spend hours online in video conferences and classes, many report struggling to maintain concentration. As a result, they tend to zone out — causing experts to fear this cognitive overload may be a cause in the recent surge of roadway deaths in 2020. 

A new study by Root Insurance found 54% of surveyed adults report having trouble concentrating on the road after signing off a video call. Around 64% of respondents said they check their phones while behind the wheel, with another 53% reporting they do this within the first 15 minutes of driving. 

“The problem with distraction is huge and it’s not just checking email or texting,” Russ Rader, an official with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told NBC News. “There’s the risk of cognitive distraction, looking at the road while your thoughts are elsewhere. That zoning out may mean you don’t notice a dangerous situation soon enough to react.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

SLCPD cruiser...
Chandler Holt

SLCPD officer witnesses wrong-way drunk driver crash into embankment

At around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, an SLCPD officer witnessed a 2009 black Ford F-150 traveling at a high rate of speed in the wrong lane. 
14 hours ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang, CNN

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
14 hours ago
In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently than ever before.
2 days ago
The Chinese national flag is seen at the entrance to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing...
By Zachary Cohen, CNN

A look at China’s history of spying in the US

The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that violated American airspace this week has fueled a diplomatic crisis with the postponement of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned trip to Beijing.
2 days ago
Around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, February 4, a 34-year-old female sustained critical injuries after being...
Waverly Golden

AirMed responds to tubing accident in Peter Sinks, Logan

Around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, February 4, a 34-year-old female sustained critical injuries after being struck by a snowmobile.
2 days ago
A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, U.S. February 1, 2023, in this picture obtained ...
Zachary Cohen, CNN

US military has shot down the Chinese spy balloon off US East Coast, US official says

The US military has shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard, a US official said Saturday.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Utah Highway Patrol to crack down on distracted driving over weekend