May 24, 2024 - News

Utah's traffic fatality rate is among the nation's lowest

Map showing the change in motor vehicle traffic fatalities from 2022 to 2023. Most of the country saw decreases in fatalities from 2022 to 2023. Maine and Alaska saw the biggest decreases while Washington, D.C. and Rhode Island saw the largest increases.
Data: U.S. Department of Transportation. Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Utah saw a bigger drop in traffic fatalities last year than almost anywhere else in the nation, according to new federal data. It also had one of the lowest fatality rates per miles driven.

The intrigue: The decline came while the state was reeling from a huge spike in 2022 in pedestrian deaths in particular.

By the numbers: Road deaths dropped by more than 12% in 2023, the 7th-biggest decrease in the nation.

  • The total fatality rate was the nation's 4th lowest, behind Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey.

Zoom in: According to state data, pedestrian deaths dropped more than 25%, from 54 to 40.

  • Motorcycle deaths were down 14% and motorist deaths dropped from 200 to 187 — a 6.5% decline.
  • Bicyclists, who account for the lowest number of road fatalities, dropped from 15 deaths to nine.

Catch up quick: Although motorist deaths peaked in 2021, non-motorists saw huge spikes in 2022, with more cyclists and pedestrians killed than in any other year in at least a decade.

Yes, but: Drivers in Utah — and elsewhere — have become increasingly prone to road rage, with 47 encounters involving guns in the past decade.

  • State lawmakers this year made it a criminal offense to lash out "with the intent to endanger or intimidate an individual in another vehicle" following an encounter in traffic.

What they're saying: If you're upset while driving, try "calming exercises like deep breathing, counting to 10, and reframing negative events to keep our cool," Amanda McNab, a social worker with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute said in January.

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