CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Fatal crashes, auto-pedestrian accidents across Utah up from last year

Nov 8, 2021, 8:03 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:00 pm

(Stock photo)...

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – A deadly auto-pedestrian crash in Salt Lake City is the latest example of how dangerous 2021 has been for Utahns walking along streets and highways.  They’re worried the number of auto-pedestrian crashes will continue to climb now that darkness falls sooner. 

So far this year, more people were killed in car accidents than in all of 2020.  Last year, 247 people died, statewide, in deadly traffic accidents.  In 2019, there were 204 people killed in Utah’s roadways.  However, 277 people have been killed since the beginning of 2021.

Auto-pedestrian crashes on the rise

Investigators say the number of deadly auto-ped crashes went up this year, also.  Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roden says 34 pedestrians died so far in 2021, which is a 25 percent increase over the past seven-year average.  Conditions are especially dangerous when the sun goes down, with a large number of the deadly crashes happening in the late afternoon-early evening hours.

“Over 39 percent of those [auto-peds] are happening during that time,” Roden said.

No one common factor

Limited visibility isn’t the only contributing factor to this uptick. However, Roden says there doesn’t seem to be one common factor behind these fatalities.  He says there’s a mixture of problems leading to these deadly crashes, including speeding and cell phone use.

“Distracted driving is a problem.  Fatigue while driving is another problem,” Roden said.  “Drivers play one side of it, but the pedestrians also play the other side.”

When it comes to distracted driving, Roden says those cases are not always easy to investigate.

“The potential districted driver isn’t always so forthcoming in saying distraction was part of it,” he said.

According to Roden, drivers are not always at fault in auto-ped crashes.  He says pedestrians need to be just as careful in preventing road deaths.

“Crossing at a crosswalk or a crossing signal is going to, ultimately, be the safest instead of crossing mid-block, especially when the daylight hours are dark and someone is not going to see you,” he said.

With nearly two months left in the calendar year, the state is on pace to surpass the number of deadly in 2016, when a total of 281 people died on Utah’s roads.

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Fatal crashes, auto-pedestrian accidents across Utah up from last year