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Utah sees an increase in auto-pedestrian fatalities

Empty bike laying on the asphalt with black car off to the side.
Ian Valerio

We talked to the Utah Department of Transportation about why fatalities are increasing, and what drivers and pedestrians can do to stay safe.

Since October, the Utah Department of Transportation has seen an increase in the number of auto-pedestrian fatalities. That's according to Public Relations Director John Gleason.

Prior to October, Gleason said Utah saw a decrease of 20 auto-pedestrian fatalities compared to last year, but that number has since spiked upwards. He said this spike showed about 11 pedestrians that had been killed in a three to four week span.

“October is generally the month that we see more pedestrian fatalities than any other month of the year," Gleason said. "It's likely because it's still warmer weather and people are trying to soak in the last bit of sunshine before we head into the winter months and so they're out there, and we're seeing it get dark a little bit earlier with fewer daylight hours.”

Although these auto-pedestrian accidents happened in different locations, Gleason said common factors in the accidents were impairment and distracted driving. These driving behaviors, along with drowsy and aggressive driving almost always contribute to the amount of fatalities on the road.

Gleason added it’s important for drivers to always be on the lookout for pedestrians.

“In order to do that, you have to put away the distractions, you have to focus on the road and make sure, of course, that you're never driving impaired," he said.

Putting phones away and limiting conversations with other passengers can reduce driving distractions. Gleason said drivers should also make sure to stop at crosswalks and check everything they do twice.

However, it’s also important for pedestrians to do everything they can to stay safe.

Gleason said pedestrians should cross the road at crosswalks, and make eye contact with the drivers. He added pedestrians should wear bright reflective gear if they are out at night.

“It's really tragic and unfortunate and completely avoidable. If we all work together we have a shared responsibility as drivers and pedestrians to get everyone home safely," Gleason said.

A Cache Valley native, Savannah is a junior at USU studying journalism with a minor in English. She loves getting to know new people and learn interesting things about them. She also loves experiencing different cultures.