Litterbugs cost Utah taxpayers $2M a year

May 11, 2022, 9:13 AM
people clean litter along highway...
Ameris Jensen and Ski Jensen pick up a trash and roadside debris along eastbound I-215 between Redwood Road and I-15 in Murray on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Listen up, litterbugs, picking up trash alongside Utah’s highways costs taxpayers $2 million a year, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. Litter on roads can also cost much more than money:

Litter can be deadly 

According to UDOT, road debris causes 1,800 crashes every year

UDOT spokesman John Gleason joined KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic and guest host Taylor Morgan to talk about an expensive problem that does not need to exist and is easy enough to make disappear.

“Since I was a kid, I just can’t litter,” Debbie said. “I just will not litter.”

“It’s one of those things that just like you, we just get so irritated by it because it’s unnecessary. It’s something that we can all make the commitment to either not litter or properly secure cargo,” Gleason said.

“I’m shocked that people do this,” Debbie said. “I’m equally as shocked that you’re paying $2 million a year to clean it up.”

In the last five years, both the cost and time to pick up litter have increased 28% for UDOT, Gleason said, adding the cost is drawn from the same budget that funds snowplows and patching potholes.  

“We’ve had a couple of big cleanups that we’ve paired with the communities across the state on and… it costs a lot of time and resources to do this,” he said.

Double fine for littering in Utah?

Under Utah Code, the penalty for littering on a park, recreation area, waterway or other public or private lands:

“A person who violates any of the provisions of Section 76-10-2701 is guilty of a class C misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $100 for each violation.”

As a public affairs and communications professional, Taylor said he is committed to doubling the fine for being a litter bug.

“So right now on air — Debbie and John, hold me accountable — I’m going to use my lobbying powers of persuasion on Capitol Hill. We’re gonna get a bill file opened. We need to at least double these fines, maybe triple,” Taylor said.

Debbie also had an anti-litter suggestion.

“To add to your pitch to increase the fines, Taylor, I would like to see more drive-thru restaurants commit to putting in a trash can that isn’t full and overflowing.”


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.    

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Litterbugs cost Utah taxpayers $2M a year