Tag Archives: Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities

Slow Down for National Work Zone Safety Week

Work Zone

We are teaming up with the Association of General Contractors to celebrate National Work Zone Safety Week by reminding drivers to slow down and focus on the road, especially in work zones.

In 2015, a total of 2,849 motor vehicle crashes occurred in Utah work zones, resulting in 10 deaths. According to the Federal Highway Administration, speeding was a factor in 29 percent of all fatal work zone crashes in 2014, while distracted driving contributed to 16 percent. Currently there have been zero fatalities in Utah work zones in 2016.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our work zones safe for those who travel through them and those who work in them. But there’s only so much we can do. We need the public’s help,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “Slow down, put down the phone, be alert, and obey the laws – especially when driving through a work zone.”

In addition, UDOT release a 30-second PSA to remind drivers of the risks UDOT workers face every day in the work zone. The PSA is told from the perspective of UDOT employees’ children, who want to see their parents come home safe every night.

“Work zones are places where real people do their jobs every day,” said Rich Thorn, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors. “They have families and other people who care about them and want to see them come home safe. Knowing that should motivate drivers to be alert and slow down in work zones.”

Safety is the number one priority for each of UDOT’s more than 150 projects this year.  For example, the Point project requires every employee to participate in weekly safety training. Also, to further protect it’s 1,500 employees from traffic, crews placed more than 24 miles of concrete barrier, which is 50 percent more than the contract required, as this barrier provides a safer work zone for employees.

Work zones are dynamic places that can change from minute to minute. UDOT urges drivers to be safe and help reach Zero Fatalities by:

  • Driving the posted speed limit.
  • Paying 100 percent attention to the roadway, as lanes are often narrowed and shifted for construction.
  • Eliminating distracting activities, such as changing radio/music, using mobile devices (surfing, tweeting, talking, texting), eating and drinking, putting on makeup, and reaching while driving.
  • Minimizing lane changes within the work zone.
  • Merging into the proper lane well before reaching a lane closure.
  • Watching out for workers and their equipment in the work zone, as they can be especially hard to see at night.

UDOT encourages drivers to check the UDOT Traffic App (available for Android and Apple devices) to view current traffic conditions, locate work zones, or plan the best route before travel. Drivers are also encouraged to TRAVELWise around freeway construction by adjusting schedules to travel during less-congested times of day. Drivers can also take transit or telework to skip congestion and work zones.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration celebrate National Work Zone Safety Week each spring to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones. UDOT continues to participate in this observance in order to raise driver awareness, protect employees and reach Zero Fatalities in work zones.

#MessageMonday: Seat Belts On, Phones Off

Editors Note: #messageMonday is part of a relatively new, ongoing Zero Fatalities campaign aimed at improving safety behaviors on Utah roads. It is a partnership between UDOT and the Utah Department of Public Safety. More information about the campaign can be found here

081015 VMS

They’re two of the main killers on Utah roads: seat belts (or not wearing them) and cell phones.

According to The National Safety Council, it’s estimated that 1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using phones (e.g. making calls, choosing music, reading e-mails and texting), and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting. Distracted driving involving some form of phone use accounted for almost 100 fatalities on Utah roads in 2014 ALONE. Whether you’re making a call, looking at a text, or even having Siri send the message for you, there’s too much multitasking for your brain to focus on driving safely, and all too often, it leads to a car crash.

Distracted driving phones

And no matter what caused the crash, your chances of survival increase significantly if you’re wearing a seat belt. Since 2005, unrestrained or improperly restrained victims account for just about half of all car-related deaths on Utah roads. Wearing your seat belt isn’t just a personal choice: it affects everyone around you. In fact, statistics show that unbuckled passengers can increase probability of death for other people in the car by 40 percent. Of course, since May 2015, it’s also the law for everyone to buckle up any time you’re on the road.

So there are the facts.

At UDOT and Zero Fatalities, we’re not trying to scare you into practicing safe driving techniques; it’s about more than that. It’s about each and every life that could have been saved had a different choice been made. It’s about that brother, sister, mother, father, friend, or other loved one who isn’t here, but should be. Car crashes may be inevitable, even with safely designed roads and careful drivers. But each time we get into a vehicle, we can control the choices we make to help keep our roads safer — for our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.

So please wear your seat belt. Wait until your trip is done to make that call or send that text. Your family and friends will be grateful for that choice when you make it to them safely.


Incident Management Team celebrates 20 years of service

If you’ve ever had a flat tire, run out of gas, or driven by a crash on Utah’s roadways, chances are you’ve seen the white Incident Management trucks loaded with orange traffic cones, their electronic signs on the top with vital information. An integral part of how the state deals with time-sapping events on our roadways, UDOT’s Incident Management Team has 15 teams on call statewide for just about anything that can happen.

But it wasn’t always that way: After 20 years, it’s time to celebrate the service of the unsung heroes of the IMT team.

Incident Management Team

IMT members Billy Frashure, Nick Jarrett, Mark Whittaker, Jeff Reynolds and Alan Peterson are some of the professionals keeping Utah drivers safe. Photo by Adan Carrillo

In 1994, UDOT started a courtesy patrol — two trucks assigned to help drivers in the Salt Lake Area. But time and demand have increased the IMT’s role. No longer is the team looked at as a courtesy — but a necessity — in keeping Utah freeways safe and traffic moving from Logan to St. George and everywhere in between.

Consider this: since 2004, the IMT has helped more than 120,000 motorists in the Beehive State. With these professionals specifically trained in clearing crashes off the road quickly and then staying on the scene, emergency personnel and the Highway Patrol can focus on what they do best while knowing IMT is protecting them on the road.

Another important stat: with each minute saved by clearing a crash, five minutes of delays are prevented. Clearing crashes also helps prevent secondary crashes.

“Think of how many drivers have been helped since 1994, how many injuries have been prevented, or lives saved?” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras during a celebration on Monday. “IMT is a critical piece to help us reach our goal of Zero Fatalities.”

Braceras went on to give all of us safety tips to help IMT and UDOT out with the goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads:

  • Don’t stop on the freeway unless it’s an emergency
  • If you ARE involved in an incident, stay in your car with your seat belt on.
  • Slow down and move over to the next lane if you see a vehicle on the side of the road — it’s the law to do so for emergency vehicles.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to make your trip safely
  • Check your spare tire to see if it’s in working condition
  • Prepare for the worst weather by keeping a blanket, food and water in the car.
  • Leave a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you.
Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

100 Deadliest Days Recap

Red and black logo that says Zero Fatalities A Goal We Can All Live WithLabor Day weekend marked the close of what has been dubbed the 100 Deadliest Days on Utah roads. Traditionally, traffic fatalities increase significantly during the summer months compared to the rest of the year, and unfortunately this year was no different. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 96 people lost their lives on Utah roads – nearly a fatality a day. That’s up from 91 during the same period last year.

Each of these numbers represents a person whose life was cut tragically short, and a family who is experiencing unimaginable grief. The lives of so many people will never be the same.

As of September 2nd, 168 people have died on our roads in 2014, up 20 from the same time last year – more than a 13 percent increase. Our goal is Zero Fatalities, and it’s concerning anytime that number moves in the wrong direction.

Now it’s important to put these numbers in perspective. From 2000 to 2012, we reduced traffic fatalities on Utah roads by 41 percent – and in 2012, we hit a 50-year record low. We have made great strides in terms of engineering of roads and vehicles, greater enforcement and driver education – but more can always be done.

The Zero Fatalities program focuses considerable effort on school outreach and teaching young student drivers to become great drivers from the start – and to avoid the five behaviors that contribute to nearly all of the fatal crashes in our state: Aggressive Driving, Drowsy Driving, Distracted Driving, Impaired Driving… and the number one factor killing people on Utah roads – Not Buckling Up.

In 2013, nearly half of the traffic fatalities (excluding pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists) were a result of people not buckling up. Of the crash investigation reports we’ve received so far this year, at least 45 people have died in 2014 because they were not wearing their seat belts.

Wearing a seat belt is not just a personal decision; it affects everyone else in the vehicle and other people on the road. In a crash, an unbuckled passenger may become a projectile and increase the risk of injury or death to the other vehicle occupants by 40 percent. Wearing a seat belt also helps the driver stay in the driver’s seat to maintain control of the vehicle.

Buckling up is the simplest action you can take to prevent injury and save your life in a crash – and it’s essential that we all make this commitment to help reach our goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads.

Report: Nearly Half of All Fatalities in 2013 Were Not Buckled Up

219 lives were lost in car crashes on Utah’s roads in 2013, up two from 2012. Although Utah only experienced a slight increase in fatalities from last year, any climb in fatality numbers is troubling.

Graphic demonstrating 219 live losts on Utah highways

Even more alarming is the number of Utahns killed in crashes because they were not buckled up. Excluding pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist fatalities, nearly half (46.7%) of people killed on Utah’s roads in 2013 were not wearing a seat belt.

Chart showing the significant increase in fatalitiy numbers of Improper Restraint compaired to other factors.

Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to prevent death or serious injury when involved in a crash. In fact, people who aren’t properly buckled up are 40 times more likely to die in a car crash than those who are.

Buckling up only takes moments to do, and could mean the difference between life or death. Commit now to always wear your seat belt, and let your passengers know that your car won’t move until everyone is buckled up.

Here is a snapshot of the top five deadly driving behaviors killing people on Utah’s roads:

Graphic showing the top five deadly driving behaviros and how many people were killed by each.

Utah is making progress toward our goal of Zero Fatalities, but we still have work to do. UDOT reminds drivers and passengers to always wear your seat belt, slow down, put down phone and never drive drowsy or impaired. If we work together, we can each our goal of Zero Fatalities.

Join us as we continue the conversation about Zero Fatalities on Twitter and Facebook. You can also review the full 2013 Fatalities Data Analysis report by visiting the Zero Fatalities website.

This guest post was written by Zero Fatalities team member Mary Rice.

Drowsy Driving Experiment

Drowsy Driving Deomonstration

Four volunteers attempted to perform basic driving maneuvers after more than 30 hours without sleep.

It’s 4 a.m. While most Utahns are still fast asleep, four people, each with very different lives, all have one thing in common…they’re struggling to stay awake. Nate Davis is a businessman and father of four. Kylie Lalumia is a brand new mom. Lindsey Tait is 17 years old and has a busy social life. Ben Winslow is a reporter for Fox13 News. In each of their cases, it wouldn’t be unheard of to go with very little sleep.

Fast forward ten hours. This group has now been up for 30 hours or more…and they’re going to get behind the wheel. Sound dangerous? It is. That’s the point.

On Wednesday, August 7, UDOT and the Department of Public Safety held a media event to demonstrate the effects of drowsy driving. Nate, Kylie, Lindsey and Ben were invited to test their skills on DPS’s driving range. Each had to navigate through a field of cones as they tried to back up, change lanes, make sharp turns, and parallel park. How well did each driver do? Let’s just say it’s a good thing the obstacles were cones and not kids.

“Oh my gosh,” said Kylie as she ran over another cone.

“It’s a lot tougher to concentrate,” Nate said as he spun the steering wheel. “Interpreting what’s coming next is what’s getting me.”

Ben, who has a high-paced job where he jumps from story to story and is constantly tweeting, admitted the lack of sleep definitely slowed him down. He said, “It was difficult to just think. My cognitive skills were delayed…everything was just delayed because I was so tired.”

“I didn’t realize how many cones I had knocked down until you go back and look,” said a surprised Lindsey. “If I was on the road, I don’t know how many cars I would have hit. People are out there. It’s crazy to think about.”

What’s really crazy to think about is that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. In fact, being awake for 20 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at a much higher risk for a crash. A drowsy driver often displays the same symptoms as a drunk driver; blurred vision, slow reaction time, and weaving in and out of lanes.

So far this year, at least 8 fatalities in Utah have been attributed to drowsy driving…and there may be more. The problem is these types of crashes are difficult to identify because the driver is often alone and there are no blood tests that show fatigue. While UDOT and UHP work hard to make our roads as safe as possible through engineering and enforcement, the driver is ultimately responsible for their own safety and those around them.

“Driving is difficult,” Sgt. Matt Smith with UHP says. “It takes a lot of focus and mental ability, and unfortunately when people are so tired, it goes right along the lines of impaired drivers.”

Nearly everyone is guilty of driving drowsy, but most people don’t realize how dangerous they actually are. Here’s something to think about. You are at risk of getting in a crash if:

  • You are driving longer than 2 hours without a break
  • You are driving alone
  • You are driving at night
  • You got 6 hours of sleep or less the night before
  • You’re working or going to school more than 60 hours a week
  • You’ve been drinking or taking medication

The best thing you can do to make sure you’re not putting yourself and others at risk is planning ahead and getting enough sleep, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of driving the following day.

If you do find yourself nodding off, having difficulty focusing, blinking excessively, yawning repeatedly, and especially drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting rumble strips…it’s your responsibility to get off the road. Turning up the radio or rolling down your window is not going to cut it. Those things don’t work. You need to pull over and switch drivers, take a short nap, get out of the car and stretch or walk around or even find a safe place to sleep for the night.

Nate, Kylie, Lindsey and Ben all said their drowsy driving experiment was eye opening for them…and we’re hoping it will open the eyes of other drivers and maybe save lives.

For more information about the dangers of driving drowsy, go to sleepsmartdrivesmart.com or zerofatalities.com and check out Ben’s story below.



Truck Smart and Drive To Stay Alive

Drive to Stay Alive and Truck Smart are brought to you by UDOT’s Motor Carrier Division. These two programs have the same goal of addressing drivers safety but to two different audiences. The Truck Smart program focuses on helping drivers develop a healthy respect for  large trucks and buses while the Drive to Stay Alive program encourages good safety habits among truck drivers. Both campaigns were started almost five years ago but were recently revitalized with a new website containing pamphlets and program information on safe driving.


Truck Smart is a program that serves to remind the motoring public of the importance of driving safely around large trucks. Jim Phillips, Utah’s Motor Carrier Training Coordinator said, “Statistically 75% of drivers and big rigs that are involved in an accident, the driver of the automobile is to blame.” 

The newly revitalized Truck Smart website contains driver education information including a student workbook where new drivers can learn how to safely drive with trucks on the road.  The site emphasizes four different aspects of driving with trucks that are important to remember while driving:

1. Know the “No Zone”

  • It’s important for drivers to remember that the front, back and sides of trucks are all “no Zones,” or blindspots,  for truck drivers. When a person is “Camping out” in these zones the driver cannot see you.

2.  Don’t Cut Off Trucks

  • Always give trucks enough room and never cut them off because their stopping distance is not the same as a smaller vehicle.

3. Stopping Distances

  • Trucks always need more time to stop than cars. Be careful when passing and make sure to never cut them off.

4. Wide Turns

  • Trucks have a higher center of gravity and therefore need more room to make turns.  Never try to squeeze past a truck in order to turn because you might just get hit as well.

Drive to stay alive is a program centered around truck drivers, and their passengers to remind all parties of safe driving habits while on the road. The program was primarily for truck drivers but the rules and safety tips apply to all.DTSA_Logo

Safe driving tips include:

Drowsy Driving: 

You are drowsy driving if:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelid
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • Repeated yawning
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting, tailgating, or hitting shoulder rumble strip
  • Restlessness and irritability

Slowing down, don’t speed

  • Driving too fast can put your life at risk as well as the lives of those around you. Slowing down can make all the difference between a major or a minor accident.

Seat Belt Safety

  • Always buckle up. Period.

The Truck Smart team makes presentations to schools around the state. A presentation was recently given at Westlake High School where 70 student drivers were instructed on the importance of being “Truck Smart” while driving and how to “Drive to Stay Alive.”

Truck Smart and Drive To Stay Alive giving a presentation at Westlake High School.

Truck Smart and Drive To Stay Alive giving a presentation at Westlake High School.

Phillips summarized the education approach as following the same example of the “Buckle Up” program. Children were encouraged in grade schools to buckle up while driving. It’s the same idea with the “No Zone”, kids go home and tell their parents to buckle up or be Truck Smart and less accidents happen.

The division of Motor Carriers will be at the The Great Salt Lake Truck Show August 16-17 at Thanksgiving point. A booth about Truck Smart and Drive to Stay Alive will be on display with pamphlets and further information.

TruckSmart: http://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart

Drive To Stay Alive: http://www.udot.utah.gov/drivetostayalive/

2013 Strategic Direction — Part 3

This is the third part of a 4 part series about the 2013 Strategic Direction. Please also check out Part 1: Preserve Infrastructure,  Part 2: Optimize Mobility and Part 4: Strengthen the Economy.

Zero Fatalities

UDOT remains committed to safety. This new goal replaces the previous goal of “Improving Safety” emphasizing UDOT’s commitment to reducing fatalities. Some may believe that zero is unattainable, however to those who’ve lost family members on Utah roads one fatality is one too many. Zero Fatalities is the only goal acceptable to Utahns and to UDOT.

In 2012, 218 lives were lost on Utah’s roads in car crashes–the lowest Utah traffic fatalities have been since 1959. We are making progress toward our goal of Zero Fatalities, but we still have a ways to go.

Every UDOT project incorporates safety improvements. In 2012, UDOT programmed $19.2 million for specific safety projects, including:

  • 42 miles of median cable barrier installed, for a total of 231 miles since 2003
  • Approximately $17 million of Safety Program funds were assigned to specific safety projects in 2012
  • 12 new traffic signals constructed
  • 24 traffic signal upgrades constructed
  • 11 pedestrian/school crossing improvements
  • Construction of 20 safe sidewalk projects
  • Installation of 540 sidewalk access ramps

In UDOT, the focus on safety within engineering begins with planning, designing and building safe roadways. Engineering for safety is UDOT’s commitment to a safe-system approach. The main principle of a safe-system approach is the roadway is designed and built to realistically prevent traffic related deaths even when driving behaviors create crashes.

Education is also important roadway safety. Utah demonstrates its commitment to safety through outreach efforts that help educate the public and make Utah a safe place for living, traveling and doing business. These education programs include:

Since 2009, UDOT safety programs have:

  • Totalled more than 135 presentations to elementary schools
  • Reached more than 100,000 students statewide

UDOT’s Incident Management Program began in 1994 as part of UDOT’s on-going commitment to safety on Utah’s roads. From the beginning, the program has provided significant benefit by increasing first responder safety, reducing congestion and delays and reducing secondary crashes.

Snow and ice removal is a major component to safe driving in Utah. To clear snow from approximately 6,000 centerline miles of Utah’s roads, UDOT employs the latest technologies and trains crews to ensure they are ready.

  • On average, Utah receives more than 25 winter storms each year and UDOT crews remove more than 65 million tons of snow and ice from Utah’s roads.
  • To help keep our roads clear around the clock, UDOT operates a fleet of approximately 500 snowplows.
  • UDOT’s winter operations budget for the 2012-2013 winter season is $23.3 million, including equipment, salaries, sand, salt, brine and avalanche control.


In 2012, 215 lives were lost on Utah’s roads in car crashes—the lowest Utah traffic fatalities have been since 1959. We are making progress toward our goal of Zero Fatalities, but we still have a ways to go. These 215 fatalities were preventable and we hope we can continue to see this number decline, ultimately to zero.

Fatality Numbers

Here are five simple ways to save lives—including your own—on Utah’s roads.

  1. Always, always buckle up. Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. In 2012, buckling up could have saved 67 lives on Utah’s roads. Buckling up takes two seconds to do, and could mean the difference between life or death in a crash. Commit now to always wear your seat belt, and let your passengers know that your car won’t move until everyone is buckled up.
  2. If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. Designate a driver, call a cab or take public transit. There is no excuse for driving under the influence. Sadly, 41 people died in Utah due to impaired driving in 2012. Alcohol and illegal drugs aren’t the only things that can impair your driving. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and lack of sleep can also impair your ability to drive safely.
  3. Too tired? Don’t drive. Believe it or not, drowsy driving kills. Fourteen fatalities in 2012 are attributed to drowsy driving. If you’re feeling drowsy, pull over and switch drivers, find a safe place to sleep for the night or get out of the car and stretch or jog for a few minutes. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
  4. Stay focused on the road. With so many potential distractions, a driver’s attention may easily get diverted if the driver isn’t making a conscious effort to stay focused on the road. It takes just one time of looking away for a brief moment—reading a text, changing the radio or even answering the phone—to cause a disaster. Twenty people died in 2012 in distracted driving-related crashes.
  5. Slow down and don’t drive aggressively. Whether you have a “need for speed” or you’re running a few minutes late, pushing that accelerator a little harder could cost you your life—it cost 43 people theirs in 2012. A total of 49 people died on Utah’s roads in 2012 due to aggressive driving or speeding. Aggressive driving means operating a vehicle in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property.

2012 Zero Fatalities Infographic

Join us as we continue the conversation about Zero Fatalities, what you can do and how we’re doing toward our goal in 2013 by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. You can also review the full 2012 Fatalities Data Analysis report by visiting the Zero Fatalities website.

This post was written by Jane Putnam, Zero Fatalities Team.


UDOT, the Utah Highway Patrol, and Zero Fatalities are encouraging people to buckle up not just for themselves but also for their loved ones.

The Zero Fatalities team kicked off the year at its annual press conference by announcing that Utah’s traffic fatalities are at the lowest point they have been since 1974 with 233 fatalities. While the numbers have gone down, the stats are still no where near reaching its goal. This past year, Utah had an 89.2 percent seat belt usage rate—yet the 11 percent who did not buckle up accounted for more than 30 percent of the traffic fatalities alone, and more than one in three traffic fatalities over the last five years.

The conference also highlighted a young girl Ashli Hendricks who was devastated when a tragic car crash took her father’s life in 2001. A video of Ashli’s story was shown which spoke to parents who don’t wear seat belts and are putting their families’ futures at risk.

Based on a focus group conducted by UDOT, drivers say that their motivation for buckling up is if their family members tell them to. Speakers emphasized to drivers the importance of thinking about others, especially their loved ones, when driving on the road and not wearing a seat belt.

“It may not be the most important thing to you,” said Ashli. “But it is the most important thing to [your family].”

This guest post was written by Monica Hasebi. Monica is an information specialist in the UDOT Communications Office.