By Dylan Roberts
The Utah Department of Transportation will launch a series of radio and television announcements encouraging Utahns to drive more safely in an effort to meet the department”s newly announced “zero fatalities” goal for 2006.
“Obviously it is an ambitious goal,” said Bethany Eller, Utah Department of Transportation public information officer. “But we won”t be happy until there are zero deaths.”
Last year there were 282 fatalities in Utah, according to the UDOT 2005 fatality report. The report also indicates a steady decline in deaths on Utah roads over the last five years. There were 373 deaths five years ago and 296 deaths in 2004.
“To lower fatalities, I think what we have done is reduce factors that caused accidents like improper restraints, fatigue and DUIs,” Eller said.
UDOT hopes to educate the public through a series of media announcements that are to be released later next month.
“The main way we want to reach the public will be through radio and television announcements, information on our Web site that will be available and brochures,” said Eller.
Nile Easton, UDOT public information officer, said UDOT will begin shooting the advertisements this week.
“The main point of these commercials will be to show how terrible these accidents are, to show the human impact involved,” Easton said. “These advertisements will focus on five areas – drowsy, distracted, aggressive, impaired and unbuckled driving.”
UDOT”s program focuses on motivating drivers to make changes in their driving to decrease deaths.
“Should we be happy that 282 people died on Utah roads last year, instead of 373 deaths five years ago?” asked Carlos Bracers, deputy director for UDOT, while announcing the goal in a UDOT news release. “Obviously not. We have come together to support this goal of zero fatalities, but the greatest support in this campaign must come from every individual who gets behind the wheel.”
Eller said UDOT will count on the Federal Highway Administration, Utah Department of Public Safety, AAA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that have all pledged their support to the goal.
“We will do everything we can to help reduce the number of fatalities on the highways,” said Col. Scott Duncan of the Utah Highway Patrol in the news release. “Our blitzes to crack down on DUIs and seat-belt violations, along with driver education, will help decrease fatalities, but we need the support of every driver in order to reach our goal.”
In 2005, 208 of the 282 fatalities that occurred on Utah roads were due to improper restraints, which include not wearing seatbelts, 25 deaths were the result of fatigue, and 21 were due to alcohol use, Easton said.