Data shows 2021 deadliest year on the roads since 2002 | News, Sports, Jobs



Carlos Braceras, director of the Utah Department of Transportation, speaks at a press conference in West Valley on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

Harrison Epstein, Special to Standard Examiner


Col. Mike Rapich of the Utah Highway Patrol speaks at a press conference in West Valley on Wednesday January 5, 2022.

Harrison Epstein, Special to Standard Examiner

Standing in front of signs and placards depicting data collected by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Highway Patrol, leaders of the two organizations announced Wednesday that there were 320 road fatalities in 2021 .

Deaths, according to UDOT director Carlos Braceras, were the highest in a single year in Utah since 2002. There had been fewer than 300 deaths each year since 2004.

“Our roads have never been so safe, our cars have never been so safe. Our driving behaviors can be much safer, ”said Braceras.

Col. Mike Rapich of the Utah Highway Patrol spoke to members of the media about the importance of active decision making for drivers – not just while driving, but also considering whether or not they should be on the road. road in the first place.

According to preliminary data, 120 of the deaths this year were directly attributable to impaired driving.

“We have seen an increase in the number of impaired drivers, we have seen an increase in speed-related deaths, we have seen an increase in young driver-related deaths,” said Rapich.

According to preliminary data, the 2021 deaths involved:

  • 81 speed-related fatalities (85 in 2020)
  • 120 impaired drivers (138 in 2020)
  • 30 adolescent deaths (22 in 2020)
  • 74 uncontrolled deaths (64 in 2020)

Road deaths have also occurred mostly on dry roads, they said. The 320 deaths consisted of 233 motorists, 44 pedestrians, 37 motorcyclists and six cyclists.

Rapich also added that Highway Patrol Soldiers have seen a statewide increase in violations of people driving at extreme speeds of 100 mph and above.

In 2017-2019, there were on average almost 3,000 contacts per year between UHP and drivers exceeding 100 mph. In 2020, the number jumped to over 5,100 and in 2021 dropped slightly to over 4,700 incidents, according to Rapich.

“People have a false sense of security,” he said, pointing to the increased amenities, luxury and comfort found in modern automobiles.

Braceras and Rapich said that one way to reduce the number of road fatalities in the future is simple and is in every car – seat belts. According to Braceras, it was recorded in 2019 that more than 90% of drivers in Utah used their seat belts. This number fell slightly in 2021 to over 88%.

Seat belt usage data was collected by the Highway Safety Office, Zero Fatalities, and other contractors by conducting roadside surveys from specific locations across the state, examining cars, and checking if people wore seat belts.

“They’re the ones who die in 1 in 3 crashes. It’s incredibly disproportionate. If there’s one place you can say that has a huge impact, it’s this one, ”said Rapich.

Braceras added that there had been an approximately 55% increase in fatalities and serious injuries over the two years of seat belt use in the state.

Breaking down the numbers further, he said the 12% of drivers not wearing seat belts account for around 32% of fatalities.

Kristen Hoschouer, project manager for Zero Fatalities, also spoke on Wednesday. Zero Fatalities, the joint project between the UHP and UDOT, hopes to encourage safe driving with its annual education campaign, which will begin in mid-January. The campaign will air on TV, billboards, social media and more.

Ultimately, backed by data and information, Braceras begged the public to drive more carefully.

“Driving is probably the most dangerous thing we do every day. But at the same time, we have more control over ourselves on the road than over many other things in our lives, ”said Braceras. “Let’s make 2022 an incredible year. Let’s make this the safest year on Utah roads.

Updated tables, charts and data are available online at


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