Utah highways prove to be more dangerous during the summer, according to the 2016 fatal crash summary report published by the State of Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office. May, June and July totaled the highest number of deaths on the road for the year.
Fatal crashes in those three months alone made up 35 percent of total road-related deaths in 2016. Of the 281 fatalities in 2016, 21 percent of those were young adults between the ages of 15-24.
As summer rounds the corner and more drivers hit the road, students should prepare to travel as safely as possible.
Longtime Orem law enforcement officer Andrew Beckman offered suggestions to students to ensure their safety while driving.
Beckman highlighted the importance of staying alert and driving defensively.
“A lot of wrecks are caused by drowsy drivers,” Beckman said. “Driving outside of your normal sleep cycle is not a wise choice. If you get drowsy while driving, do something about it. There is never an excuse.”
Students should stop somewhere off the freeway along their route if they start to feel tired, Beckman said.
“Stop at a rest stop to walk, nap or stretch,” Beckman said. “If you’re uncomfortable at a certain rest stop, go to the next one or find a local store that you can go inside and walk around in.”
Beckman also said students should drive defensively, especially on two-lane roads and in construction areas.
“Be a defensive driver,” Beckman said. “Watch out for semi trucks, and be very careful in construction areas. Some of these things seem like common sense, but they are extremely important.”
It is necessary that students employ safety measures not only while on the road, but also before they start driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a branch of the United States Department of Transportation, advises drivers to get their cars serviced before they hit the road.
“Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
Tasty snacks, good music and engaging conversation are also essential when being confined to a vehicle for hours on end, according to BYU women’s golf team members Brooklyn Hocker, Kendra Dalton and Rose Huang.
The BYU women’s golf team drives to St. George from Provo to host and compete in the annual BYU at Entrada Classic each spring. Team members have their preferred selection of yummy snacks and activities.
“Good music, good snacks, good company and a good pillow are important,” Hocker, a senior on the team, said. “My go-to road trip snacks are Twizzlers, peanut M&M’s, Wheat Thins and sunflower seeds. Snacking and good conversation definitely help pass time on the road.”
Dalton, a junior on the team, said listening to music helps her pass the time and keep the driver awake and alert.
Huang said she likes to bring dried mangoes, apple slices, kettle popcorn and a homemade fruit smoothie with her on road trips.
Having a driving partner so students can stay safe and also get sleep is important, according to Huang.