Utah Drivers Speeding Up as Pandemic Eases up Traffic

UHP troopers are reporting an increase in speeders as the highways are clearing out due to stay-at-home directives to control the pandemic. According to KSL News, drivers are driving faster than ever, with speeds of 30 or more above the posted speed limit not uncommon.

One tragic tale over the weekend happened when a 25 year older was driving over 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic, until

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Mower pulls a motorist over for speeding in a construction zone on I-80 in Draper (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

he lost control and clipped the rear end of a tractor trailer. The impact of the crash sheared off his car door and cut his seatbelt, leading to an ejection and the loss of his life.

It might be that drivers have the mistaken impression that officers are also at home “sheltering in place.” The UHP pointed out, they have the same number of troopers writing tickets and no one is getting a free pass because of COVID-19.

Overall, officer are saying that there are about 1/3 fewer cars on the road and that speeds in general are up over 10 mph. One hot spot of speeding violations is in the road construction area just south of the point of the mountain. One such violation involved a driver going 42 over the speed limit, or 102 mph.

Driving this route myself, I note that cars are routinely going over 80 mph in this construction zone where the posted speed limit is 60 mph.

Legally speaking, if someone is speeding and they cause an accident, they’re responsible for all the damages that follow from their negligence. Damages could include medical bills for treatments they may need as well as property damage to their cars and “pain and suffering” for having to go through the discomfort and immobility that frequently follow a car crash. As they say, “speed kills,” and those drivers who choose to speed and cause another to lose a life will be held responsible both criminally as well as civilly.

The UHP is also reassuring the public that when they pull you over for speeding, that they’ll approach your car from the passenger side and are not handling paperwork such as registration
and insurance cards.

Better off, though, not to be a target. Fewer cars on the road means that it will be easier to pick you out from a pack. No one likes to see the flashing blue and red lights behind them. My advice is to slow down and arrive safe and sound.