UHP addresses I-80 safety issues
This thank-you note may seem to be a bit out of the ordinary, since most drivers prefer the absence of law enforcement, except when there is an emergency. But, on behalf of (most of) the residents in Summit County, we would like to express appreciation to the Utah Highway Patrol for their very visible response to the recent string of serious traffic accidents on Interstate 80 between Park City and Salt Lake.
These days, commuters rarely fail to comment on the number of patrol cars they have seen between Parleys Summit and Mountain Dell. Certainly, the UHP’s presence along the Interstate has caused lots of frequent travelers to glance at their speedometers and slow down.
The accidents that took the lives of two Summit County children and put another in the hospital in critical condition took place during an unusually harsh cold snap. The weather was likely one of the culprits in those tragedies, and many of the other less serious wrecks that occurred, but since then we have heard from countless residents that heavier in traffic and the carelessness of other drivers have made the Interstate increasingly hazardous.
Since the UHP stepped up its patrols, the number of traffic incidents has decreased. And, last week, state Representative Christine Johnson, who represents a portion of western Summit County, asked legislators to budget an additional $500,000 to maintain a higher level of enforcement along the summit.
This week, at the behest of Sen. Kevin VanTassell, the Utah Department of Transportation also added its support to the cause saying it would install a $150,000 cable barrier between the east- and westbound lanes where last month’s most serious collision took place.
State and local agencies are doing their part to address citizens’ safety as they negotiate the notoriously steep and curvy Parleys Summit section of I-80. But drivers have to take responsibility too. That means observing the speed limit, slowing down as road conditions warrant and minimizing distractions like cell phones.
Officers patrolling the Interstate are putting themselves at risk to help make the highway safer. One way we can thank them for that effort is to be more vigilant about our own driving habits.
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Judy Horwitz writes in a guest editorial that Summit County voters must continue to support a vital source of funding for the area’s arts and culture institutions.