Powder Mountain Road fatal crash

A cargo truck was involved in a car crash that killed one man on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 on Powder Mountain Road in Weber County. 

SALT LAKE CITY — The total number of traffic fatalities in Utah have fallen for a second consecutive year and the rate of deaths on state highways is as low as it’s been in at least decades.

There were 264 traffic deaths in 2018, according to data released Wednesday by the Utah Department of Transportation. Those totals are as low as they’ve been since 2014, when 256 people were killed on Utah roads.

The state’s rate of deaths per 1 million miles traveled was .80 in 2018, the lowest number seen since the state began tracking rates.

Though hard data is not available, 2018 figures to have been one of the safest years on the road in Utah’s history. The state reached at least a 52-year low in total traffic deaths in 2012 when 217 people were killed. But the rate then, .82 deaths per million miles traveled, was still higher than the rate of deaths in 2018.

“Fatalities on Utah roads have decreased,” said UDOT spokesman John Gleason. “But there is still significant room for improvement.”

Of the roadway fatalities in 2018 there were 175 motorists killed, 39 pedestrians, 47 motorcyclists and three bicyclists, according to UDOT.

Weather was not a factor in most of the fatal crashes, with 75 percent (or 198 crashes) occurring on dry roads. As has been found consistently in studies the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many of Utah’s fatal crashes in 2018 could be attributed to human error.

According to UDOT’s numbers, 15 road fatalities were attributed to drowsy drivers, 17 were caused by distracted drivers, 82 were due to aggressive driving (with 67 of those involving excessive speeds) and 19 traffic deaths were caused by impaired drivers.

Improper restraint or failure to wear a seat belt played a role in 50 fatalities, the state said.

About 68 percent of the total fatalities were male, with 32 percent being female. There were 27 teens killed on Utah roads in 2018.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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