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Our dangerous Utah Roads

Nikki Elegante
Every day we get into our vehicles and drive to work, run errands or take our kids
places. But do we ever stop to think about the risk of getting into the car everyday and
the dangers around us? What information is out there to help us better protect ourselves
and our families when we get into our cars and drive these roads that are becoming
more and more dangerous each year. Something I find important is a website I can go
to, that will provide me with up to date and current information about the roads I am
driving on and what is causing so many accidents on them.

My plan here is to show two different websites concerning road traffic and the
safety concerns on these roads. One site I found that was very up to date and
organized was the Texas Department of Transportations website, the other page that I
am comparing it to would be Utahs Department of Public Safety. The Utah page is not
as organized or even up to date, comparing the two sites will give us a good idea of
what needs to be done to fix the page we use here in Utah to give us information.

While looking at the Texas Department of Transportation webpage I instantly

noticed their page was a much different layout than ours here in Utah. They had pdfs on
there page that you could select with the information you wanted to know, for example
comparison of motor vehicle traffic deaths, it shows us statistics from 2003 to 2015, and
it tells us the percentage of the increase or decrease from the previous year, the vehicle
miles traveled along with that percent increase or decrease from the previous year,

deaths per 100,000,000 miles traveled and estimated economic loss of motor vehicle
crashes. Already just with this one part of the page, we are getting more information
with this site compared to our own, and it is updated with the numbers from last year
unlike the Utah site. Another thing I liked about the Texas site was that they also gave
you information on crashes by age and gender, which tells us which category of people
are involved in the most crashes. This page was very organized and I think the Utah
page could use some of the ideas and make theirs better by following this example.

The Utah Department of Public Safety gives us a website we can go to and look
up statistics on our roads. You can look up crashes that were alcohol related. With this,
the site shows graphs that will break down alcohol related crashes by the day of the
week and the county and many other things. When I look over this, I find myself getting
lost in the information, the page seems too busy and very scattered, almost
overwhelming. The information on the page is good, but I feel needs some organization
to further help the people coming to the site to learn the information provided.
While looking through the fact sheets, you can find information from 1999-2014,
this is now 2016 and there are no numbers or graphs for the year of 2015 for us to look
at. If the state wants the roads to become safer, I believe people need to be able to be
informed as much as possible. This to me would be a flaw in the site as is it not updated
for the previous year for us to look at at learn from.

Speed related crashes were a factor in 42% of deaths on Utah roads, while we
are given these numbers here on the site, we aren't being given the details of what is

being done to lower this percentage. As a mother who is constantly on the go with my
kids, I am shocked by how fast people drive so this high number does not surprise me,
what does surprise me is the lack of things being done to prevent it. What additional
funding can be given to reinforce the cameras on the traffic lights when people speed
through them to run a red light? Or even have more patrol cars around to stop the
people who clearly are not obeying the speed limits signs.

UDOT executive director says "Were designing and constructing safer roads
than weve ever done," he said. "Cars are safer than theyve ever been. But people
people continue to multitask. Like I mentioned above, what is being done to truly
prevent these distracted drivers who are putting others at risk with their driving? You
would think most wrecks would be taking place on highways where the speed limits are
much higher than our neighborhood roads, but the truth is most of our accidents are
happening in neighborhoods, and intersections where people just aren't paying
attention. Some officials have made a statement on this and how they are trying to
change it, Officials said they need more time to see if a seat belt law enacted in May
will have an effect on drivers. The bill, passed by the Legislature last year, allows
troopers to pull people over for not
wearing a seat belt. Before,
troopers could only cite people for
not wearing a seat belt if they had
already been pulled over for

another violation, such as speeding. The use of cellphones and other mobile devices
will provide a new challenge. Last year, 27 people died due to distracted driving, such
as texting or doing their makeup. Officials said that number is expected to rise.

Daniel Fuhr, of the Utah Highway Patrol, gave a statement to the Salt Lake
Tribune saying, "The increase is because simply 93 percent of the crashes are from
human behavior and error," he said. "The increase is because people aren't listening to
our message. We tell people, 'Wear you seat belts.' But our seat-belt fatalities are
increasing. 'Don't drive impaired,' but our DUI fatalities are increasing. 'Drive the speed
limit,' but our speed-related fatalities are increasing. We just need to listen. As I went to
other sources to find these statements from the officer and the UDOT official, I believe
things like this should be posted on our public safety site as well for us to see, and also
some plans on how we are trying to change this issue as a whole. Obviously the
billboards and signs and commercials are not working, so what is next for Utah roads.
While I do find this site to be very informative, I feel like it needs some
organization and some work to keep the information we are being given up to date, and
also give us some information as to what is being done to help these numbers go down.
If someone could take this site and compare it to other states pages, and make ours
close to that I feel like, people would be better informed and could make better
decisions about how and when they are driving to avoid further crashes and fatalities.

Work Cited

Buchwalter, Ben. Distracted Driving Safety Awareness. 15, March

2011. Image. 30, July 2016
Chen, Daphne. "Very Disturbing: Utah traffic deaths rise for third year in a
row".Deseret News. 19, January 2016. Web. 22, July
Noble, Mariah. "36-year-old woman dead after fatal Utah Crash" Salt Lake
Tribune. 22, June 2016 Web 22, June 2016