OGDEN — There’s still a month left in 2020 and traffic fatalities in Ogden have already more than doubled from what they were last year.
And officials from Ogden say the biggest contributing factor is speeding.
Despite fewer overall vehicle miles traveled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been 11 traffic-related fatalities in Ogden so far in 2020 — up from just five total fatalities in the city in 2019.
Officer Bob Evans, with the Ogden Police Department’s Traffic Bureau, said police are seeing and hearing about an increase in speeding, particularly in Ogden’s residential neighborhoods.
“We’re getting more and more complaints of traffic speeding in our subdivisions,” Evans said in a video recently published on the OPD’s Facebook page.
Evans said Ogden’s speeding rise mirrors what’s happening across the state in 2020.
This year, traffic fatalities went up nearly 70% during what is typically the most dangerous period to drive, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. From Memorial Day through Labor Day this year — a time period UDOT calls the “100 Deadliest Days” — 102 people died on Utah roads. That was up from 61 fatalities during the same time frame in 2019.
The upward trend has continued and, as of Dec. 1, there have been 240 fatal crashes so far in Utah during 2020. In 2019, there were 207 fatal crashes through Dec. 1. And the increase this year comes as the total number of crashes recorded has actually fallen. There were 57,894 total crashes recorded in Utah through Dec. 1 last year. So far in 2020, there have only been 46,069 crashes.
Throughout 2020, in various media reports and on social media posts, the Utah Highway Patrol has said speeding has increased this year, significantly contributing to the rise in fatalities.
“They are documenting far more cars in excess of 100 mph,” Evans said. “We’re seeing that translate in our communities.”
Ogden City Council member Doug Stephens has addressed the issue multiple times during formal council meetings, saying he’s heard from several of his constituents that speeding has gotten out of control.
The police department has already added resources in problem areas of the city. Notably, OPD has done extra patrols on south Washington Boulevard near the area of Riverdale Road where drag racing has become an issue. After an increase of complaints there, the department assigned a full-time officer position to monitor the area and has worked with UHP to curb speeding on Washington, which through Ogden is actually a United States highway, a portion of U.S. 89.
Evans issued a stern reminder that motorists should obey speed limits inside Ogden City limits. He said all subdivisions are 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
“This is your neighborhood and these are your children,” he said. “Please remember to drive safe.”