Every holiday season the Utah Highway Patrol beefs up its presence on the state’s freeways, but this year troopers will be watching the west desert region with an especially keen eye.
While fatal traffic accidents statewide have been on the decline, life-claiming crashes along sparsely populated Tooele County’s long, straight stretches of asphalt have been on the rise this year.
As of Nov. 30, there have been 13 fatal accidents on the county’s interstate and highway routes — up from just three in 2011.
“We’re getting tired of having to do death notifications,” said UHP Lt. Corey Nye. “We’re finding the ‘Deadly Three’ are in effect, that not only are people driving at high speeds, but they aren’t wearing seat belts and often alcohol is being found in their systems.”
This year, troopers have written 402 citations to drivers caught speeding over 100 mph, up from 284 in 2011 and 239 in 2010. “We’ve seen speeding at over 100 mph almost double in two years,” Nye said.
Of the 402 excessive speed cases, 14 of them involved drivers who were impaired. Of the fatalities UHP has investigated this year in Tooele County, more than half of them involved alcohol, no seat belt use and speed.
UHP already has adjusted schedules and heightened its patrol presence in the region. Troopers will be especially vigilant during the holidays, Nye said.
“UHP will put extra troopers on the interstate in Tooele County to stop motorists who are putting themselves and others in danger,” he said.