KSL TRAFFIC

Rise in traffic deaths comes as U.S. drivers face more distractions than ever

Dec 12, 2023, 2:09 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 11:18 am

Cars drive through the I-15 and I-215 interchange -- traffic deaths in the u.s. have seen an increa...

FILE: Cars drive through the I-15 and I-215 interchange in Murray on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Traffic deaths have leveled off in the U.S. since a spike in 2020 says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the number of driver distractions continues to pose a threat.

It’s a problem unique to the United States said Jason Mettmann, communications manager with Utah Highway Safety.

“We are a car-centric society. And there are lots of other nations around the world that are older than ours and designed differently than ours that are not as car-focused,” he said.

There are also more cars on the roads.

Smartphones, smart cars, and distractions

Some experts think smartphones and smarter cars have impacted driving behavior, causing drivers to be careless.

Most of the cars in the U.S. are also automatic, freeing up a hand to do something other than shift a gear.

Mettmann said anything that causes a distraction can be dangerous, including certain safety features.

“If automakers have designed that to be a feature in their vehicles, I would urge drivers to consider whether or not they personally are distracted from the task of driving when they’re using that (safety) feature and that technology.”

He said more distractions are likely, as technology advances.

Safety officials laud one piece of safety technology

Mettmann said there would be many more deaths if the invention of the seatbelt hadn’t change the game.

“For the last 40 years, automakers and safety advocates and transportation departments and law enforcement officials, we’ve all been pushing the concept of making sure that you buckle up whenever you get into the vehicle, he said.

“It’s an easy, two-second behavior that absolutely saves lives.”

Along with limiting distractions and using seatbelts, better roads, stricter laws and advanced safety technology can also contribute to fewer deaths on U.S. roads.

Related:

We want to hear from you.

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

KSL Traffic

UDOT repaving State street...

Sam Herrera

Expect closures as UDOT repaves State Street in Salt Lake

The Utah Department of Transportation is set to repave State Street soon. UDOT says delays should be expected during the project.

4 days ago

Legacy Parkway in Davis County. UDOT will start repaving the road Monday night....

Heather Kelly

UDOT repaving Legacy Parkway, traffic down to one lane overnight

UDOT anticipates the construction of Legacy Parkway will start at 6 p.m. every night and end before the morning commute at around 5 a.m.

5 days ago

Hurricane brush fire (Hurricane Fire & Rescue)...

Diana Jones

Hurricane brush fire quickly put out

Just before 10:00am Saturday morning Fire and Rescue crews were dispatched to a brush fire on I-15. 

7 days ago

Vechical crash in Eagle mountain Friday afternoon. (anonyomous)...

Diana Jones

Car crash in Eagle Mountain

Wednesday evening there was a car crash in Eagle Mountain on Highway 73 just west of the Maverick on Ranches Parkway, involving 2 cars. 

7 days ago

A crash on I-15 in West Valley has left one person dead....

Kennedy Camarena

West Valley crash on I-215 leaves 48-year-old dead

One person died after a crash occurred on I-215 in West Valley on Friday. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

7 days ago

I-215 near 3100 South with three southbound lanes closed down due to a fatal crash on Friday aftern...

MICHAEL HOUCK

UHP: One killed in two vehicle crash on I-215, several lanes closed for hours

One person is dead after a car crash on Interstate 215 near 3100 South on Friday afternoon.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Rise in traffic deaths comes as U.S. drivers face more distractions than ever