CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Adults are more likely to die in auto-pedestrian crashes, data shows

Dec 11, 2023, 3:26 PM

Image of a decoy pedestrian in a school crosswalk in West Valley City on Wednesday, March 24, 2021,...

A decoy pedestrian walks in a school crosswalk in West Valley City on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, as West Valley police conduct a crosswalk safety operation. A decoy pedestrian walks in a school crosswalk in West Valley City on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, as West Valley police conduct a crosswalk safety operation. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a recent rise of children hit by cars in Utah, federal data shows that adults are more likely to die in auto-pedestrian crashes.

Salt Lake City Police Department Spokesperson, Brent Weisberg, said as of Dec. 11, 2023, there have been 20 traffic-related deadly crashes in Salt Lake City. Although that number is lower than it was around the same time last year, it’s still too many. 

“We have always said that any death on our roadways here in Salt Lake City is one too many,” Weisberg told KSL NewsRadio.

The data shows a 40% increase in fatal auto-pedestrian crashes involving adult pedestrians since 2012. Weisberg said SLCPD officers are doing everything they can to mitigate the increase.

“The next part of that is working with the city to create safer roads through engineering,” he said. “We call it the three E’s in law enforcement. Education, enforcement and engineering. We want to do everything we can to make sure all of our roadway users are safe.”

What can you do to prevent auto-pedestrian crashes?

Weisberg said it’s “hard to say” why more adults are being hit. However, many of these auto-pedestrian fatalities share a few characteristics.

“When we’ve gone back and looked at some of our traffic-related deaths, … many of them have happened at night when people are crossing very busy roadways (and) they’re wearing dark clothing,” Weisberg said. “So, we want to make sure that drivers are paying extra close attention to their surroundings. It is so easy to get distracted while you’re driving.”

He advised drivers to pay attention and make sure their headlights are on at night.

“We have cars that now have automatic lights on, but yet we still see people driving at night with their lights turned off,” Weisberg said. “When our police officers do those traffic stops, people will just say ‘Oh, I thought I had [my headlights] on automatic.'”

Drivers need to make sure their cars are in good condition and that they are ready to drive during times like dusk and dawn. Additionally, Weisberg said it’s important for pedestrians to make sure they’re visible when it’s dark outside.

“Whether that’s wearing reflective clothing, or even simply just turning on your cellphone’s light,” he said. “Just that activation of that light being flickered as you’re walking with your phone in your hand could be enough to draw attention to you as a pedestrian.”

Maria Shilaos contributed to this story.

Further reading: 12-year-old boy hit by car in Cottonwood Heights, police say suspected DUI

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Adults are more likely to die in auto-pedestrian crashes, data shows