May 5, 2022
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined law enforcement representatives and state transportation leaders Thursday in calling attention to a troubling uptick in deadly traffic crashes in the City and surrounding communities.
Salt Lake City has seen a rise particularly in deadly auto-pedestrian crashes, with 9 pedestrian deaths so far in 2022. In the same time period in 2021 there were four, and one in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
“Everyone deserves to walk or bike through our neighborhoods and enjoy our community without fear of becoming injured or killed by a moving vehicle,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “As we grow and our population density increases — as more pedestrians walk and bike through our neighborhoods and on our streets — we need to evolve. We must put the safety of pedestrians first.”
To educate communities and work toward solutions to the worrying trend, Mayor Mendenhall announced two new efforts:
- A new partnership between the City and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Zero Fatalities education program
- The creation of a “Safe Streets Task Force” that will work within the City to create change.
“Our roads and cars are safer than ever,” UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said, “but you wouldn’t know it based on the fatalities we are seeing. We have a problem. People are driving impaired, aggressive and distracted, and these poor decisions are costing people their lives.”
The “Safe Streets Task Force” will be a multi-department effort with the Salt Lake City Police Department and Transportation Division to identify the most critical areas of the city where intervention may be necessary to prevent future crashes, injuries, and deaths.
The task force will recommend meaningful interventions, performing a deep dive into traffic patterns, traffic crash trends, and traffic citation data. This dataset will inform a set of recommendations both for immediate City actions and our long-term policies.
The budget the Mayor proposed to the Council this week includes $2 million for traffic calming projects.
Salt Lake City Police Captain Scott Smalley said the Department is seeing more impaired driving, distracted driving, and reckless driving in the City.
“As Salt Lakers, we can work together to address this issue and make our city streets safer. Speed, impaired driving and distracted driving are the most common factors in the crashes we see that result in serious physical injury or death. As a community, we share our streets and sidewalks,” said SLCPD Captain Scott Smalley. “We all have an equal responsibility when using our roads to ensure the safety of ourselves and other road users.”
Leaders asked motorists to slow down and be aware, saying most tragedies are preventable.