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Wrong-way Accidents Are Up 30% in Utah in 2021

April 09, 2021

UTAH - A news report published on states that Utah Highway Patrol's Lieutenant Nick Street conducted a conference call with other state highway patrol troopers' administrators.  Lieutenant Street stated that the discussion shifted to a serious problem that had been weighing on his mind: head-on accidents caused by wrong-way drivers.

The conversation began when Lieutenant Street mentioned that he was observing an increase in fatal wrong-way accidents in Utah. 

According to a study provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there have been 2,008 wrong-way accident fatalities between 2015 and 2018.  The average number of fatal wrong-way accidents during that same time period was 500 deaths a year.  The AAA study asserts that the number of fatal wrong-way accidents was up 34%.  

Furthermore, the number of fatal wrong-way accidents is up 30% in Utah.  According to Utah Highway Patrol statistics, there were fifteen fatal wrong-way collisions in 2020, which is four more than in 2018 and 2019.  The number of wrong-way accidents on freeways jumped from 80 in 2019 to 104 in 2020.

Nationally, AAA reported that intoxication had been the most significant cause of wrong-way crashes.  AAA also stated that other causes for wrong-way accidents include solo drivers making wrong turns and older drivers who became disoriented. 

Street estimates more than 90% of wrong-way crashes in Utah were caused by an impaired driver.

Lieutenant Street stated that intoxicated drivers cause about 90% or more wrong-way accidents in Utah.  

One of the National Transportation Safety Board and AAA recommendations includes installing more visible signs and signals, so drivers avoid becoming confused.  The report also recommends that local officials add more lighted signs to help elderly drivers.  Another recommendation includes changing laws concerning physically and cognitively at-risk drivers.

The accident data further showed drivers over age 70 are more at risk of driving in the wrong direction.  Accident data revealed that drivers ages 75-79 drive ewer miles than younger drivers, but drivers ages 75-79 are overrepresented in wrong-way accidents.  The group is also encouraging states to double down on strategies to combat impaired driving.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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