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Salt Lake City mayor and safety officials call for smarter driving

From right are Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras and Salt Lake City Police Lt. Scott Smalley. Photo: Erin Mendenhall/Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 5, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — If it looks like pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, “it’s because they are,” the mayor said Thursday. of Salt Lake City, Erin Mendenhall, at a press conference.

“And not just in Salt Lake City, it’s across the state of Utah.”

Mendenhall said that in 2019 and 2020, the city had one vehicular pedestrian fatality as of May 4, and had three on the same date in 2021.

“We are already at nine in 2022,” she said. “That’s nine too many. As we discuss what we can do to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, it is important to state that not all accidents are the same.

Mendenhall said car-pedestrian or car-bike collisions tend to fall into three categories:

  • Those involving an impaired driver
  • Those with distracted drivers
  • Those involving careless pedestrians crossing against the light or between intersections

“The challenge we face in each of these cases is complex, and so must our approach. Everyone deserves to be able to walk or ride a bike in any city or neighborhood and enjoy the community without fear of being killed or injured by a moving vehicle.

“Salt Lake City, like cities across this country, has long been a vehicle-centric city. But as we grow and our population density increases as more pedestrians choose to walk or cycle through our neighborhoods to get where they need to go, we must evolve. We must prioritize the safety of our pedestrians. We also need to better understand what is happening.

Mendenhall said she has invested $2 million for traffic calming projects in her proposed budget, which she hopes the city council will approve.

“Today I am announcing two actions the city has taken to make Salt Lake City safer for pedestrians and cyclists,” she said. “First, Salt Lake City will become the first city in Utah to partner with the UDOT Zero Fatality educational program, which focuses on preventing drowsiness, distraction and impaired driving. … We want Salt Lake City to be a leader in combating these disturbing trends.

Second, “Salt Lake City will create a new street safety task force,” Mendenhall said. “This is a cross-departmental effort within the city government that will bring our police department into cooperation with our transportation division, and they will identify the most critical areas of our city where intervention may be needed to help us prevent future accidents and injuries. and dead.

The task force will look at traffic patterns, accident trends and areas that might need more pedestrian signals or warning lights, she said.

“This dataset will then inform recommendations for the city’s immediate actions and our long-term policies,” Mendenhall said.

“We are not going to be passive, passive observers and a trend that right now is taking the lives of our residents. It just can’t go on. … Each of us has a responsibility to commit ourselves every time we drive to the safety of those around us.

Mendenhall asked listeners to pledge now not to drive while intoxicated and not to look at cell phones while driving.

“The lives of children, mothers, fathers, so many loved ones depend on each of us and the decisions we make while behind the wheel.”

Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Transit Authority, said the series of recent crashes, killing a 13-year-old cyclist, two 3-year-old boys, a 5-year-old girl, a pregnant mother, a 49-year-old cyclist ‘one year, among others, were all preventable.

“When you look at what we see happening with the deaths in the state, we have a problem. We are talking specifically about pedestrians and cyclists, but the problem is even more widespread. As of yesterday, we have had 105 deaths this year statewide.

On May 4, 2021, the total was 86. The previous year, the number was 67, he said.

“This trend that we’ve seen over the past two years isn’t unique to Utah,” Braceras said. “We see this happening all over the country. And when it comes to pedestrians here in Utah. We are almost double what we were last year. … We need to care more about each other as people. And I know we’ve all been through a lot in the past two years. People seem to be more angry or frustrated. There seems to be more unknown in our lives. But whatever else is going on in your life, I asked you to do one thing. These issues in the back before getting behind the wheel of the car and concentrating on the road ahead.

Maj. Jeff Nigbur, Utah Highway Patrol, said he was happy to partner with Salt Lake City on Zero Fatality.

“We have to do it as a team and that includes the public very, very well,” said Nigbur. “We have already rediscovered the tragic stories of individuals making poor decisions while driving and the outcome of different life backgrounds.”

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion