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Excessive speeds on Utah roads has to stop, UHP says

The Utah Highway Patrol says Utah's roadways are out of control, with drivers going more than 100 mph. To reduce speeds, the UHP is doing an aggressive driver blitz and says if drivers are going above the speed limit, they will be pulled over. In Sandy on
The Utah Highway Patrol says Utah's roadways are out of control, with drivers going more than 100 mph. To reduce speeds, the UHP is doing an aggressive driver blitz and says if drivers are going above the speed limit, they will be pulled over. In Sandy on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
Mark Wetzel, Deseret News

MURRAY — Enough is enough.

The Utah Highway Patrol says the roadways are out of control, and drivers need to obey the speed limit.

Only 15 days into the 100 deadliest days of the year — late May through early September — and there have already been 21 fatalities on Utah's roads, which is ahead of last year’s pace.

Last summer, excessive speed was a factor in a third of the fatalities on Utah roadways.

Troopers regularly stop motorists driving 100 mph along the Wasatch Front. UHP Col. Danny Fuhr said during the past month he’s pulled over three cars on I-15 driving faster than 100 mph — the latest Monday morning on southbound I-15 in Centerville.

“She drove up on the back of a guy on a motorcycle (very) close to the guy on the motorcycle,” Fuhr said. “He was looking around frantically wondering, ‘Is this lady going to run me over?’”

Fuhr said she then darted into the carpool lane illegally. She was the only occupant in the car, and when traffic cleared, she sped back up to 102 mph, he said.

When Fuhr pulled her over, he asked her if she knew how fast she was going. He said her reply was, “Was I speeding?”

He then told her she was going 104 mph on I-15. Her excuse for speeding: She told him that she needed to get home to nurse a child.

"If you wreck this car driving 104 miles an hour, you're never going to get home to that child,” the colonel told her. “If you want to care for your child, drive the speed limit."

While she was able to get home safely, Fuhr said if she had blown a tire, was cut off or swerved at those speeds, she could have been seriously injured or killed, or even injured and killed others on the busy roadway.

“I can’t stop thinking about some of the kids that have died over the last couple of weeks,” UHP Lt. Jeff Nigbur said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Fuhr said starting Tuesday the UHP is kicking off its aggressive driving blitz to get drivers to obey the speed limit.

"We're going to do everything we can to try to get control of this reckless behavior on Utah roadways,” Fuhr said. “We can't have these excessive speeds. It's 70 mph on the Wasatch Front folks: 70 mph."

The UHP is going to use more motorcycles and unmarked cars to enforce a zero tolerance speed limit. “If you’re doing over 70 mph, we’re going to stop you,” Fuhr said.

They are also asking citizens to try to curb those out-of-control drivers who seem to have no regard for themselves or others.

“I think that people just absolutely disregard that there is a speed limit,” Fuhr said. “I think that they now say, ‘Hey, you know what, we can drive as fast as we want.'”

Nigbur said troopers can’t be everywhere, so if someone sees an out-of-control driver they are urged to call in a car description to the nonemergency police number.

“If there’s an individual out on the roadway that is basically driving like a maniac and putting you in danger, as well as others, that’s an emergency,” Nigbur said. Call 911.

A speeding ticket for driving more than 100 mph will cost a driver approximately $500. Officers can even impound the car if he or she thinks the driver has been too reckless.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com