OGDEN — After a significant increase in deadly traffic accidents during 2020, Ogden City is again publicly asking drivers to slow down in 2021.
Earlier this month, the city issued a press release, saying the Ogden Police Department will be “ramping up” speeding enforcement citywide, but more specifically at certain high-priority areas. In the release, the city said OPD’s Traffic Division has increased speeding enforcement along high-traffic and pedestrian areas on Harrison Boulevard, 12th Street and Monroe Boulevard. Areas near schools, the city says, are of particular concern.
“During this time of COVID with kids in and out of school, the Ogden Police Department would like to remind you to watch for crossing guards, school zones and pedestrians throughout the city,” the city’s statement says. Ogden also reminds motorists that the moment a crossing guard steps from the curb with their stop sign raised, both directions of travel must come to a complete stop. OPD is instituting a “zero tolerance” policy for motorists traveling above the 20 mph speed limit in active school zones, when flashing yellow lights are on.
Speeding in Ogden was a regular topic of discussion in city government circles during 2020.
Despite a significant drop in travel in 2020 precipitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there were 14 traffic-related fatalities in Ogden last year, according to data from the Utah Department of Public Safety. The 2020 number was nearly three times higher than 2019, when there were just five total traffic fatalities in Ogden. In a video accompanying the city’s press release, Officer Bob Evans, with the OPD Traffic Division, said Ogden’s speeding rise mirrors what happened across the state in 2020.
According to the Utah DPS data, traffic fatalities jumped statewide last year, increasing from 225 total traffic deaths in 2019 to 267 in 2020. Also in 2020, traffic fatalities went up nearly 70% during what is seen as the most dangerous three months of the year to drive, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year, UDOT tracked 102 deaths on Utah roads, up from 61 fatalities during the same time frame in 2019.
Though conclusive evidence is hard to come by, traffic officials say that, anecdotally, speeding appears to be the contributing factor. Evans said OPD has seen an increase in complaints about vehicles speeding through city subdivisions.
On its Twitter page, the Utah Highway Patrol has consistently mentioned an increase of speeding on Utah roads over the last year. On Feb. 14, after a few days of inclement weather and a fatal crash on Interstate 15 in Box Elder County, UHP posted on Twitter, “We plead with you to slow down.”
In addition to increasing police patrols, Ogden is also taking the message to social media, using the hashtag #drivesafeogden, and has created a stop sign-inspired logo asking people to slow down.