Mayor Mendenhall calls for vigilance from drivers, announces plan to find solutions

May 6, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: 12:20 pm
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall urges Utahns to drive with caution after a recent increase in ...
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall urges Utahns to drive with caution after a recent increase in auto-pedestrian deaths during a press conference at the City-County Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 5, 2022. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to help curb the recent uptick in deadly traffic crashes in Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined leaders from law enforcement and the state in asking for vigilance from drivers.

Vigilance from drivers

“Everyone deserves to walk or bike through our neighborhoods and enjoy our community without fear of becoming injured or killed by a moving vehicle,” Mendenhall said in a press release. “As we grow, and our population density increases — as more pedestrians walk and bike through our neighborhoods and on our streets — we need to evolve. We must put the safety of pedestrians first.”

Salt Lake City, in particular, has seen a rise in fatal auto-pedestrian collisions. So far in 2022, there have been nine pedestrian deaths. During the same time period in 2021, Salt Lake City had four pedestrian deaths. And one each in 2020 and 2019.

In an effort to slow the troubling trend, and to educate the public, Mendenhall announced Thursday two new measures.

  • A new partnership between the city and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Zero Fatalities education program.
  • The creation of a “Safe Streets Task Force” that will work within the city to create change. 

“Our roads and cars are safer than ever,” UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said in a press release. “But you wouldn’t know it based on the fatalities we are seeing. We have a problem. People are driving impaired, aggressive and distracted, and these poor decisions are costing people their lives.”

Safe Streets Task Force

In conjunction with the Salt Lake City Police Department and Transportation Division, the Safe Streets Task Force will determine where intervention is needed in the city to potentially prevent future accidents from happening. 

Mendenhall proposed her budget to the City Council earlier this week, and it includes $2 million for “traffic claiming projects.”

The Salt Lake City Police Department says it has seen an increase in reckless driving.

“As Salt Lakers, we can work together to address this issue and make our city streets safer,” said Captain Scott Smalley in a press release. “Speed, impaired driving and distracted driving are the most common factors in the crashes we see that result in serious physical injury or death. As a community, we share our streets and sidewalks,” said SLCPD Captain Scott Smalley. “We all have an equal responsibility when using our roads to ensure the safety of ourselves and other road users.”

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Mayor Mendenhall calls for vigilance from drivers, announces plan to find solutions