When computing Utah car accident statistics, it is important to recognize that according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) figures, we fare far better in car crash fatality ranking than many other states. But state data from the Utah Department of Public Safety (UDPS) from the most recently released year (2021) indicates that there are still problem drivers on Utah’s roadways.
In that single year, there were 61,404 car crashes. Of that total, 297 were fatal accidents resulting in 332 lost lives. Meanwhile, another 18,220 car crashes injured motorists, their passengers, or others.
An Overview of Car Accidents in Utah
Some may wonder why public safety officials bother tracking motor vehicle crash rates at all. While there are many good reasons for doing so, the best answer is that learning about traffic patterns and car wrecks can help drivers avoid accidents in the future.
Motor vehicle crash data also provide metrics on the efficacy of safety measures implemented since the last time the data was compiled. The Highway Safety Office is the arm of the UDPS responsible for collecting, reviewing, analyzing, and publishing crash data. The compilation and analysis processes take multiple years to complete, so what gets released is data from the previous year or even older.
Utah car accident statistics from 2018 show the following statistics:
- Someone died in a car accident every 33.7 hours;
- Someone got injured every 20.5 minutes; and
- There are vehicles involved in collisions every 8.5 minutes.
The problem with data analysis of fatal crashes is that each number represents a now-deceased person.
Utah Car Accidents in Numbers
The state Department of Public Safety collects and publishes weekly Utah car accident statistics online. Below is accident data from the week of March 27, 2023.
By Car Accident Fatalities
During that week in Utah, 48 fatal car accidents happened, causing 54 deaths. In 61% of the week’s crash deaths, the driver was killed.
Deaths of passengers and pedestrians split at 17% each, while motorcycle drivers represented 4% of the fatalities, and no motorcycle passengers lost their life. One bicyclist was killed that week.
It appears that seatbelt use was a factor in some of the accident statistics reflecting the fatal crashes from that week. Oddly, 17 of the traffic deaths were people correctly wearing a seatbelt. One was killed who was incorrectly wearing a seatbelt, and 14 died who were not wearing any seatbelt.
By Age Group
Those aged 20 to 29 had the most crash fatalities of all age groups (19%). Teenagers 13 to 19 and those aged 40 to 49 had the second-highest fatal collisions (17%). The other age group car crash death numbers are as follows:
- Age 0 to 12 – 2%;
- Age 30 to 39 – 13%;
- Age 50 to 59 – 13%;
- Age 60 to 69 – 13%; and
- Age 70 to 79 – 6%.
While this data is derived from just a single week of vehicular deaths, it is a fair representation of our state’s deadly collision rates.
The Utah Department of Public Safety noted that those who died in traffic-related deaths on March 27, 2023, were overwhelmingly male (63%) versus their female counterparts (37%).
By Time of the Day
The Highway Safety Office and the UDPS provided crash data indicating which times of day had the most accidents. Predictably, the accident statistics showed two daily rush-hour spikes when more crashes occurred. There was also a lesser surge at approximately 9 p.m. before the Utah car crash rate dropped precipitously.
Utah car accident statistics for 2021 from the Highway Safety Office show that there were 61,487 crashes with one or more vehicles. That is the equivalent of around 168 crashes each day.
Out of that total, approximately 30% of the accidents caused injuries. Age affected the crash rates, and teen drivers in 2021 were involved in a quarter of all accidents here in Utah. Elderly motorists were involved in nearly half as many accidents, or 13%. Another 13% of the 2021 crashes were attributed to the driver’s speed.
When and Where Crashes Were More Common in Utah
If you want to be safe on the roads of Utah, drive late at night or during the early morning hours. That’s when the fewest accidents occur.
In the year cited (2018), most car accidents happened from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the peak hours for Utah commuters to be on the roads. The counties with the highest number of wrecks, as reported by the Utah Department of Public Safety, were Cache, Utah, Salt Lake, and Weber. These more urban locations had higher rates of accidents per mile driven.
That notwithstanding, most fatalities from car accidents occurred in the rural areas of our state. Motor vehicle collisions in rural counties had an 8% higher risk of resulting fatalities than wrecks that happen in larger cities.
Contributing Factors to Car Accidents
Some Utah auto accidents may indeed be unavoidable. But most Utah car wrecks can be attributed to driver error due to one or more factors detailed below.
People automatically think of driver cell phone use as a leading cause of distracted driving. And it’s true that phone conversations, even using the hands-free mode, are distracting to drivers.
But that is just one example of distracted driving. Below are many additional examples of poor behavior by drivers that distracts them when they are behind the wheel.
- Eating or drinking;
- Talking to passengers;
- Disciplining children;
- Changing radio stations;
- Interacting with GPS systems and online maps;
- Doing grooming tasks; and
- Getting lost in thought.
If they are honest, most drivers (especially young drivers) have engaged in at least some of these potentially deadly driving distractions. If they were lucky, they didn’t cause car accidents.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Impaired driving can lead to drug-related crashes that can maim and kill other motorists, the impaired driver of the vehicle, and anyone they encounter on Utah roads. But even driving on legally prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) medications can impair drivers to the point where their own and others’ safety is at risk.
Speeding and Reckless Driving
Speeding is one example of reckless driving that can lead to fatal crashes. Failing to wear a seat belt can lead to more serious — perhaps disabling — injuries from a Utah car accident.
Aggressive driving is another negligent driving behavior, drifting out of the proper lane because the driver’s hands were on something besides the steering wheel.
Other common examples of reckless driving that may lead to injuries include following vehicles ahead of you too closely and any “stunting,” as a teen driver might attempt.
Drowsy driving accidents in Utah have injured people and can be compared to impaired driving. After 18 hours awake, drivers have the impaired reactions of a diver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05%.
After 20 hours up, drivers have an impairment level of .08%, which is the legally drunk equivalent in all 50 states. Compared to 24 hours without rest, a driver is as impaired as someone with a BAC of 0.1%.
The conditions differ in that intoxicated drivers tend to act impulsively and exhibit risky driving actions, whereas drowsy drivers fight to remain alert and in their own lane. Some drowsy drivers could drift into the cycling lanes and cause bicycle-related crashes. Impaired and drowsy driving have lethal outcomes regardless of how they are compared.
Perhaps even more worrisome is the research finding that even short-term sleep deprivation can impair drivers. Research conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that those who slept just six or seven hours a day had twice the risk of motor vehicle accidents — and the risk doubled again if the driver had fewer than five hours of sleep.
Road Conditions and Weather
In Utah, ice and snow can contribute to deadly weather conditions that make accidents more likely to occur. Pedestrians could be hurt if the motor vehicle slides off the road onto a sidewalk.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers at Good Guys Injury Law for an Initial Consultation
Involved in a motor vehicle accident in Utah? Our car accident lawyers at Good Guys Injury Law offer a free consultation to those with injuries from accidents caused by another at-fault vehicle driver. Call us today at (801) 214-0954.