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UDOT and DPS release preliminary 2023 traffic fatality numbers and launch new road rage campaign

Utah Road Fatalities 2019 - 2023 Charts breakdown the total for each year by motorists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) released preliminary traffic fatality numbers for the 2023 calendar year. The launch of a new road rage campaign was also announced to encourage Utah drivers to stay calm, patient, and courteous when behind the wheel.

Preliminary reports show there were 279 lives lost on Utah roads from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023. That is 40 fewer lives lost than in 2022 (319 fatalities). There were 187 days throughout the year without a traffic fatality.

“While we want to celebrate and continue with the improvements we’ve seen,” says Commissioner Jess Anderson, “we also want to address the road rage issue we’ve seen this past year.”

UDOT and DPS are launching a road rage campaign to promote safer driving habits and a culture of mutual respect among Utah drivers. A video illustrating the potential consequences of a road rage crash and resources and tips to help prevent incidents like this can be found on zerofatalities.com/rage/.

Road rage includes any driving behaviors that potentially endanger others and are accompanied by intentional acts of aggression, negative emotions, and risk-taking. Many drivers may not realize that their actions when behind the wheel could qualify as road rage, including following too closely, weaving through traffic, and speeding.

At a press conference this morning, the media also heard from Amanda McNab, MSW, LCSW,
and Quality Improvement and Training Manager at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. McNab spoke about driving behaviors and road rage from a behavioral and mental health perspective.

End Road Rage with ABC. A = avoid retaliation, B = breathe, and C = Carry on

“All of us can reduce road rage by using calming exercises like deep breathing, counting to 10, and reframing negative events to keep our cool,” says McNab. “Practicing these before you hit the road can keep you and everyone else safe. If you feel you need help with anger or anxiety, there are resources like the 988 crisis support line, the SafeUT app, or counseling.”

“As we enter the new year, we strongly urge everyone to drive safely, remembering that when you enter a car, you should be calm, focused, and alert,” says Kristen Hoschouer. “We encourage Utahns to actively promote road safety by being mindful of your behavior behind the wheel.”

If you find yourself in a road rage incident:

  • Stay safe: If you encounter an aggressive driver, do not engage or escalate the situation. Your safety is the top priority.
  • Avoid eye contact: Eye contact can be seen as confrontational. Look straight ahead and do not react to provocative gestures or words.
  • Keep a safe distance: Maintain a safe following distance to allow you to react to sudden maneuvers by the aggressive driver.
  • Report aggressive behavior: If you feel threatened or unsafe, call 911 or use a hands-free device to report the incident.
  • Exit the road if necessary: If an aggressive driver continues to pursue you, drive to a public place or a police station to seek help.
  • Document details: If safe, try to remember or jot down the aggressive driver’s license plate number, vehicle description, and any other identifying details.

For more information about the road rage campaign, please visit zerofatalities.com/rage.

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