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Thursday May 06, 2021 Salt Lake City, UT

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Highway Safety

Media Alert

PIO

Press Release

Protecting Utah

Media Availability: Wasatch Front Police Agencies to Conduct Distracted Driving Enforcement

Wednesday April 7, 2021
Image is taken from the unmarked van and shows a person holding a cell phone in one hand while driving on the freeway.

For Immediate Release:

Police Agencies throughout Salt Lake & Utah Counties to Participate in Covert
Distracted Driving Enforcement

What: Law Enforcement Officers across Salt Lake & Utah Counties will utilize an unmarked van with spotters sitting inside looking for violations of Utah’s distracted driving laws. Violations will be called out to nearby marked units who will take appropriate enforcement action to educate or cite violators.  Police agencies statewide will participate in over 115 additional shifts focused on distracted driving enforcement throughout the weekend. 

When: Thursday, April 8th, 2021. 1000-1500 hours.

Where: A briefing will take place at the DPS Headquarters in the “Redwood B” room at 1000. (Rampton Complex 4501 S. 2700 W, Taylorsville).  A briefing will also take place at the UHP Office in Orem (763 N 1370 W, Orem 84057). 

The event will involve approx 115 officers from 19 different statewide agencies and the media is invited to attend either briefing. On-camera interviews will be available following the briefings. 

Who: Participating Agencies Include: Lehi, Orem, Lone Peak, Lindon, Provo, Springville, Mapleton, Price, Park City, Logan, Layton, Hurricane, Cottonwood Heights, Unified Police Dept, West Jordan, West Valley, Salt Lake City, and Utah Highway Patrol.

Visuals: 

  • Multiple department patrol vehicles and officers in uniform. Ride-alongs are available upon request – COVID guidelines must be followed.
  • UHP’s Instagram account will feature a virtual ride-along with Corporal Wahlberg. @utahhighwaypatrol
  • Leadership will be available for on-camera interviews.

Media contacts: 


Lt. Wade Breur

Utah Highway Patrol – Section 4 – Salt Lake County

wbreur@utah.gov

801-554-5452

Cpl. Mike Alexander

Utah Highway Patrol – Section 6 – Utah County

walexander@utah.gov

(801)707-8992


April 8-12 | Distracted Driving Blitz

2021 Fact Sheet & Messages

Background: 

The Utah Highway Patrol in partnership with law enforcement statewide will be focusing its efforts on distracted driving over the weekend, beginning on April 8th.  The nationwide “U Drive U Text U Pay” campaign aims to encourage Utahns to never drive distracted. This campaign includes enforcement and education. 

  • Enforcement: Utahns can expect to see an increase in distracted driving enforcement statewide from April 8th – April 12th. During this time over 127 additional shifts are being worked by 21 different Utah law enforcement agencies, with a majority of these shifts targeting Salt Lake and Utah Counties. The enforcement effort is data-driven and will focus on areas with the most distracted driving-related crashes. 
  • Education: Research performed by the Utah Department of Public Safety and UDOT discovered that 24% of Utahns admitted to texting while driving within the last 30 days.  Those same Utahns believe that 79% of other drivers have used their cell phones while driving.  In other words, many Utahns think that their own driving is not the problem.  The crash data shows that 33% of distracted driving crashes in 2020 were cell phone-related.  Utah had 19 fatalities in 2020 related to distracted driving. 
    • Officers will also be prepared to distribute infographic cards during traffic stops this week to remind Utahns about the consequences of distracted driving, and how to use safety features on their phones to reduce digital distractions. 

Key Message: 

Texting and other forms of messaging while driving is a deadly danger on Utah’s roads. While distracted driving can take many other forms, these texting behaviors have become one of the most pervasive forms of distracted driving. The Utah Highway Patrol wants to help spread the word that we are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the 2021 “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign. From April 8-12, 2021, law enforcement officers will increase enforcement and pull over texting and distracted drivers during this national high-visibility effort to enforce texting and distracted driving laws.  Utahns can expect to see Troopers, officers, and deputies throughout the state working extra shifts to help stop and educate drivers on Utah’s roads before they hurt themselves or others. 

Key Message: 

Distracted driving crashes are preventable if individuals act responsibly.  Remember, no excuse/justification/rationalization is worth your life or the lives of others – The text, email, call, song change all can wait until you are safely stopped.  The task of driving demands your full and complete attention.  Promise today to (1) never text and drive and (2) always drive calm and alert. 

If you see a clearly reckless driver on the road call 911. 

  • Report the location, with an address or mile marker if possible.
  • Report the vehicle’s description and license plate number. 
  • Maintain a safe distance, and do not follow or make contact with the driver.

Local Statistics: 

In 2020, there were 4,927 distracted driving-related crashes. (numbers are preliminary)

The results of these crashes were:

  • 19 deaths
  • 1,798 injured persons
  • 31.7% involved teen drivers
  • 9.27% of crashes in Utah involved a distracted driver 
  • 41% were rear-end crashes 
  • 84% were straight-ahead crashes 
  • 34% involved following too closely

Distraction Types:

32% Cellphone use

25% Other inside distraction

18% Other External Distraction

5% Food and drink

4.7% Using Vehicle Controls

3% Passengers

2.9% Marked as other distraction

Summary of information between 2016-2020 involving distracted driving crashes

  • 27,956 total crashes
  • 90 fatalities
  • 10,260 people injured
  • 8,542 teen drivers involved in crashes
  • 9% of all crashes were distracted driving related
  • 14,754 were rear-end crashes
  • Cell Phones were reported as the top distraction 

Year-To-Date 2021 Stats (as of 04/07/2021):
Total Fatal Crashes Statewide: 60

Total Fatalities: 67
Distracted Driving Related Crashes: 1,115
Distracted Driving Related Deaths: 1

National Statistics:

  • According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, nearly 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor-vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10%.
  •  NHTSA reports that the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide or almost 9% of all fatalities in 2019. This represents a 10% increase over the year 2018 or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.
  • Distracted driving crashes accounted for 15% of injury crashes and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019.
  • Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In fact, 9% of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in 2019 fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.
  • According to NHTSA research from 2017, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007.
  • In 2019, there were 566 nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
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MEDIA CONTACT

Nick Street
DPS Public Affairs Director
Department of Public Safety
NSTREET@UTAH.GOV

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