Every year, the Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is required by Utah Code Section 41-6a-406 to compile an annual Crash Summary. The purpose of this Crash Summary is to document and describe the trends and effects of accidents in the state of Utah. The summary is typically released at the end of the year for the previous year. For example, 2016’s report was released at the end of 2017. The delay is likely caused by the amount of time it takes to compile the report, analyze the information, and certify that everything is correct. This report can be a useful tool in determining what behaviors and issues are causing accidents in Utah.
The report can, as it specifies in the introduction, “heighten awareness about traffic safety issues and [allow] interested individuals to identify areas where safety programs may be focused to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.” We at The Advocates find this report extremely helpful and encourage everyone to visit highwaysafety.utah.gov to see the trends from 2016 and what behavior modifications you can make to help make you and the ones you love better drivers. The report is extensive and can seem akin to “drinking from a firehose.” There is a lot of information presented in the report. To better address each issue contained in the report, our website will highlight the relevant information in a series of individual articles to help make the information more accessible.
The report featured an executive summary, a shorter section that summarizes the larger report and notes some of the most important information. The executive summary was especially helpful in determining what should warrant the most attention. The summary focuses on some specific numbers and trends from 2016 that the report’s executives feel are most noteworthy:
● Crashes on Utah Roads in 2016 were the highest ever.
○ While this is probably partially because Utah’s population continues to increase steadily, we hope to see this number decrease. A serious accident can be devastating for a family, friend, or community. As a community of drivers, we can do better.
● Deaths in accidents were the highest they’ve been since 2007.
○ Trends in deaths due to accidents had been decreasing. However, it spiked again in 2015 and again in 2016.
● The number of injured individuals in the car increased for the sixth year in a row.
○ This statistic is likely related to the overall number of crashes. When the number of crashes is high, the number of injuries tends to be high as well.
● The year 2016 saw 2,459 more crashes than 2015.
● The leading cause of death in car accidents was speeding (This has remained the leading cause of death for a few years now).
● The overall percentage of crashes with a teenager increased for the third year in a row, following years of decreasing.
○ This fact is troubling. We hope that in the state of Utah, we are helping our teens become better, more informed drivers.
● There has been a steady increase in pedestrian crash rates.
● Drowsy driving accident rates were the highest since 2007.
● Distracted-driver deaths have continued to increase.
● Older driver crashes have increased.
● Drug-related crashes were the highest on record.
The information presented is helpful in knowing what some of the more threatening dangers of driving are. For example, knowing that the leading cause of death related to accidents is speeding will, hopefully, incentivize you to drive a little more slowly and cautiously.
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