Utah roads see significant decrease in deadly car crashes in 2023

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Education and safe practices are helping reduce automobile fatalities in Utah this year, however, the numbers are still well above pre-pandemic figures, according to Utah’s Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patrol.

Utah roads have seen a significant decrease in the number of automobile deaths this year.

Nearly 40 fewer people have died on Utah roads compared to the record-high numbers in 2021 and 2022, which saw more than 300 people die in traffic-related accidents each year.

Department of Transportation Public Information Officer John Gleason said the downward trend is a positive sign but the only acceptable goal is zero deaths.

“If we’re talking about zero fatalities that I want in my family, my friends then why can’t it be that way for everyone? And we can get there,” Gleason said.

2023 has seen a significant decrease in the number of deadly auto crashes across the state, however, the figures still surpass those recorded in 2018-2019.

Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roden said the decrease this year compared to the previous two is a sign that driving behaviors may be changing across the state.

“We’re starting to return back to those pre-pandemic driving behaviors where we know it’s not acceptable to drive extremely fast or drive impaired,” Roden said.

Educating new drivers through early prevention programs is an important aspect in reducing the number of deadly crashes across Utah. Gleason said the culture has to change to reach the goal of zero deaths.

“Years ago, it was commonplace to see people smoking cigarettes. You don’t see that as much anymore and that’s what we really need with distracted driving,” Gleason said.

Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Jeff Dutson said that no family should have to hear that a loved one has died from a preventable crash on the road.

“That responsibility of taking someone’s freedom away when you take them to jail pales in comparison to waking someone up at 6:30 in the morning and telling them they are a widow,” Dutson said.

UDOT and UHP are focused on education and culture change as they strive to reach their goal of zero automobile fatalities in the upcoming years.

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