Utah Crash-Related Deaths in 2016

As mentioned in other articles in this series, each year, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) releases a crash summary which organizes and analyzes data and statistics from the preceding year.  One of the express purposes of the review is to “identify areas where safety programs may be focused in an effort to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.”  In this article, we shall examine statistics linked to accident-related deaths.  Such information can help paint a picture of some of the problem areas in Utah driving and help guide safety procedures to prevent such tragic occurrences.  

The opening lines of the report note that Utah has made significant progress in the past few decades to reduce the number of accident deaths.  Specifically, if the rates had remained the same as in 1976, there would have been an additional 648 deaths on Utah roads and highways.  This is a staggering number.  In 2016, of the 62,471 total crashes in Utah, 26,738 people were injured, and 281 people were killed.  The reduction in deaths is attributed to traffic safety programs, aggressive media programs, seatbelt legislation, improved motor vehicle safety, and advancements in medical care for accident victims.

Although these numbers are encouraging, the picture from 2016 is not all rosy.  The past three years of reported crash data show that the number of deaths is rising again (See Graph).  While these numbers might not reflect a broader trend with an inevitable increase of deaths for the next few years, every casualty is a tragedy.  Every appropriate measure should be taken to prevent any death.  Utah has set a lofty but essential goal of zero deaths.  The report states, “because the loss of even one life is too many.”  Here at The Advocates, we wholeheartedly endorse this goal.  Zero fatalities is genuinely the only acceptable goal.  

One of the areas contributing to the slight rise in deaths in recent years is traffic deaths.  The overall number of traffic deaths was the highest total since 2007.  One of the main contributing factors to this statistic is speed.  Speeding, as in years past, is the leading contributing factor in deaths in 2016.  There were 11,508 speed-related accidents in Utah.  These accidents resulted in 5,550 injured persons, and 105 people were killed.  This made speed a factor in 38 percent of fatal crashes.  Similarly, distracted-driver related deaths have been increasing during the past few years.  

The report gives a number of immediate suggestions to help reduce the number of deaths per year.  For instance, the summary says, “wearing a seatbelt is one of the best ways to decrease injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes.”  They follow up this information by clarifying that unrestrained crash occupants are 24 times more likely to die than restrained injured occupants.  

For more information, the Zero Fatalities website has additional statistics, prevention tips, and safety plans that can help you become a better driver.  Zero Fatalities also hosts various events throughout the year that can help inform parents and students.  You can check their website for the dates and locations of these events.  Additionally, if you have any questions about a traffic fatality or any car crash, contact us.  We can help you through it.  Our knowledge and expertise will aid you in answering any questions you might have.  

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