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Thursday November 26, 2020 Salt Lake City, UT

TOP STORY

Highway Safety

Media Alert

Press Release

Protecting Utah

Seven Utah County Law Enforcement Agencies to Participate in Covert Distracted Driving Enforcement

Thursday October 29, 2020

STATS FROM THE OPERATION

Read a story about the enforcement from KSL.com here: https://www.ksl.com/article/50040283/police-crack-down-on-distracted-driving-in-utah-county

Troopers in the spotter van noted violations and called them out to marked units.

What: Utah County Law Enforcement Officers 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.

When: Thursday, October 29th, 2020. 0800-1300 hours.

Where: A briefing will take place at the Utah Highway Patrol Section Six Office (763 North 1370 West Orem Utah, 84057) at 0800. The briefing will involve approx 30 officers from seven different agencies and the media is invited to attend. On-camera interviews will be available following the briefing.


Who: Lehi PD, American Fork PD, Lone Peak PD, Lindon PD, Provo PD, Utah County Sheriff’s Office, and Utah HIghway Patrol


Visuals: Multiple department patrol vehicles and officers in uniform. Ride-alongs are available upon request – COVID guidelines must be followed.


Media contacts: 

Cpl. Mike Alexander Utah Highway Patrol – Section 6

walexander@utah.gov

801-707-8992

Trp. Tara Wahlberg

Utah Highway Patrol – Department

Recruiter/PIO

taramoss@utah.gov

385-529-2145


DISTRACTED DRIVING FACTS

Utah’s Distracted Driving Law – 41-6a-S1716

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title41/Chapter6a/41-6a-S1716.html

You’ve Got One Job: Drive Safely

  • If you’re driving down the highway, do you think there is ever a circumstance when it’s safe or smart to close your eyes for five seconds?
  • Of course you don’t.
  • Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the first things we all learn about safe driving.
  • So why would anyone ever think it is okay to text when behind the wheel, or do anything else that takes your attention from driving?

A Growing Traffic Safety Issue

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is one of the fastest-growing safety issues on the roads today.
  • Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves: they’re a danger to everyone else on the road.
  • Many distractions exist while driving, but cell phones are a top distraction because so many drivers use them for long periods of time each day.
  • Electronic devices are visually, manually, and, most of all, cognitively distracting to drivers.

Cell Phone Use in Crashes is Under-Reported

  • According to the National Safety Council, there is strong evidence to support that under-reporting of driver cell phone use in crashes is resulting in a substantial under-estimation of the magnitude of this public safety threat.
  • The identification of distraction and its role in the crash by law enforcement can be very difficult.
  • ŸCell phone records can be difficult to obtain from wireless companies.
  • ŸIf cell phone records are obtained, data must align with the precise moment of the crash – a moment which is not always known.
  • Police must often rely on drivers to admit to cell phone use. This is not possible when drivers are not forthcoming or are seriously injured or deceased.
  • Witness memories and statements may be inaccurate.
  • Police may not fully investigate cell phone use if it’s not a violation in their jurisdiction, if a more obvious violation such as speeding or lane departure is identified, or if a more serious violation is involved such as alcohol or other drug impairment.

It’s About More Than Just Cell Phones

  • Distracted driving is also about more than just electronic diversions.
  • It’s anything you’re doing behind the wheel that undermines safe driving, including eating and drinking, fiddling with the music or the A/C, or checking yourself out in the mirror.

Utah Distracted Driving Data

  • In Utah, over the past 5 years (2015-2019) there have been a total of 28,845 distracted driving crashes
  • Younger drivers have the highest rates of Distracted Driving Crashes. 
  • 15-29-year-old drivers had the highest number of distracted drivers in fatal crashes
  • Nearly 40% of Distracted Driver Collisions involved Cell Phone Use.- On average 5,763 Distracted Driving crashes occur each year
  • Over half of the Distracted Driving crashes were rear-ended crashes- On average 24 people die per year due to distracted driving 
  • 9% of all fatal crashes in Utah are due to Distracted Driving, or Out of all traffic fatalities, just under 10% is a direct result of distracted driving
  • Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.    

Reduce Distraction Inside Your Vehicle:

  • Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.   
  • Never reach for anything in your car. Pullover or have a passenger help out.
  • Set your GPS and plan your route before you go
  • Focus on driving  
  • Avoid eating while driving
  • Get everything settled before you start driving
  • Adjust audio or climate controls before driving
  • Secure children and pets before you begin driving-
  • Keep your eyes on the road, not on outside events, objects, or people.

The charts below display data for Utah 2015-2019

Distracted Driving Crashes By Age Group, Utah, 2015-2019
Distracted Driving Crashes By Severity by Year, Utah, 2015-2019
Distracted Driving Crashes by Time of Day, Utah, 2015-2019

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MEDIA CONTACT

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

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