Often, in an extensive report, filled with wonkish statistics and jargony language, it can become difficult to understand what the numbers really mean, especially after reading multiple numbers in a row. All the numbers can seem to run together. The purpose of The Advocates Guide is to help make sense of this information. We hope to help frame the situation. Often, the presentation of information can significantly influence how we engage with and understand information. The UDOT Crash Summary organized some of the most interesting information in temporal terms that helps put some of the problems in perspective.
- The average day in Utah in 2016 had 171 motor vehicle crashes involving 433 people with 73 people getting injured. Of these 173, there were roughly 0.8 persons killed.
- The 0.8 deaths a day amounts to 281 deaths per year. Although no number of deaths is acceptable, Utah does a little bit better than states with similar population numbers. For example, in terms of population, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Utah ranks just behind Connecticut and Iowa and just in front of Arkansas and Nevada. Connecticut and Iowa saw 293 and 404 deaths respectively in 2016, and Arkansas and Nevada saw 545 and 328 deaths respectively. These numbers are no reason to celebrate, however. Every death is a tragic event and just because our state is doing a little better does not mean we cannot be doing more to prevent car accidents.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 107 lives were estimated to be saved by seat belts.
- This number helps stress the importance of seat belt use. An estimated 40 lives could have been saved if those involved in accidents were wearing a seatbelt. One of the best ways to put on your seatbelt is simply making it a habit. For example, the minute you get in your car, reach up and grab the seat belt to buckle it. This habit makes seat belt use more automatic and easier to be sure you are compliant.
- There was a crash every eight minutes.
- This means that if you were to watch two average length youtube videos, a car accident would occur in Utah.
- A person was injured in a crash every 19 minutes.
- This statistic means that in a period shorter than your average television episode, someone is injured in a car accident. This fact cannot be overstated. These injuries can range from mild to severe. More severe injuries can require intensive medical treatment.
- A teen crashed every 40 minutes.
- Teenagers were a group specifically analyzed by the UDOT Crash Summary. We will cover the information about teen accidents more extensively in another article.
- A senior citizen was in an accident every 64 minutes.
- The last two statistics focus on two specific age cohorts that experienced accidents more frequently than others. Similar to teens, we shall examine senior citizens more in another article.
- A speed-related crash occurred every 45 minutes.
- In recent years, Utah raised the speed limit from 65 MPH to 70 MPH on urban freeways. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune identified that some of the motivation in the change was because “drivers [were] already traveling faster than 70 MPH.” Usually, speed-limits are created by a group of engineers who determine a reasonable speed given normal weather, traffic, and roadway conditions.
- A distracted driver crashed every 91 minutes.
- In 2007, the Utah Legislature passed a law banning cellphones while driving a car. This action reduced the number of crashes related to distracted driving. However, over the past six years, the numbers have steadily increased from 801 in 2014 to 815 in 2015 to 940 in 2016.
- A large truck crashes every 2.5 hours.
- The estimated economic loss because of motor vehicle accidents in the state was an estimated $1.8 billion.
- The amount of property damage and medical bills following the crashes on Utah roads is staggering. A serious accident can be financially debilitating for everyone involved depending on the accident severity.
The statistics presented in this article can help in contextualizing the numbers. Understanding the frequency of crashes in Utah can help encourage Utahns to be better drivers.
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