For the second time in a week, Utah Highway Patrol troopers have stopped a vehicle for going over 100 mph, and then pulled the same vehicle over again just 20 minutes later for doing the same thing.
On Tuesday, a woman traveling on Interstate 80 was stopped going 117 mph, according to the UHP. Ten miles later, a second trooper stopped the woman for going 101 mph.
These traffic stops come on the heels of a similar incident a week ago in Juab County where a driver was cited for traveling 111 mph, and then cited again just ten minutes later for going 105 mph.
That's why the latest speed enforcement campaign launched Wednesday by the UHP troopers, in conjunction with local police departments, will put a strong emphasis on stopping drivers going 100 mph or faster.
"We've seen the 100-plus mph driving continue to increase. And this is behavior that is completely 100% controllable and 100% unacceptable," UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden said during the kickoff to the Speeding Wrecks Lives campaign. "Because we're seeing these translate into serious crashes and fatalities on our highways."
Starting Wednesday and running through Aug. 14, 12 state and local law enforcement agencies will be working an additional 200 speed enforcement shifts to deter and educate aggressive drivers. The campaign will focus on both freeways and city streets, with an emphasis on the Salt Lake Valley where Roden said the majority of speed-related crashes occur in Utah.
There will also be a stronger emphasis on patrolling this coming weekend as many Utahns will be hitting the road for the Pioneer Day holiday.
Just in the past week alone, in addition to the two drivers being caught going 100 mph twice during the same trip, troopers have issued citations to or arrested:
- A man heading to Yellowstone National Park who was clocked going 133 mph in an 80 mph zone. The man was arrested for investigation of reckless driving.
- A 17-year-old boy who had just left the gym and "wanted to hear his exhaust noise" and was stopped for going 113 mph in a 60 mph zone.
- On July 13 during a speed enforcement blitz in Parley's Canyon, 163 drivers were stopped for speed violations during a three-hour period, or nearly one per minute, according to the UHP.
Roden said excessive speeding is a choice that drivers make.
"We need people to make a change to those choices. There are ramifications to these bad choices. We see crashes at such high speeds that seatbelt restraints aren't able to work effectively, that highway infrastructure isn't able to work effectively because they are not designed for those high speeds," he said.
Some people argue that today's vehicles are made in such a way that going 100 mph is easy. Roden notes that speed limits have been adjusted over the years to compensate for modern vehicles.
"But the speed limits are still there. We set those speed limits for safety reasons. And that's why we need people to follow them, observe them, and be aware of how fast they're going. One of the most common excuses that we get is that people are just unaware of how fast they're traveling, (and) a lot of that is just because these cars are designed differently," he said.
In 2017, approximately 3,000 citations were handed out in Utah to drivers going over 100 mph, Roden said. So far this year, through July 15, there have already been nearly 3,500 tickets handed out to drivers going over 100 mph.
During that same time, there have been 38 fatal crashes in the state determined to be speed-related, according to the Utah Highway Safety Office. As of Monday, 169 people had died in all traffic accidents in Utah in 2022. Roden said Utah had a "terrible start" to the year in regard to fatal crashes. And while the summer months have gotten better, he said the state is still on track to match the last several years, which were all record-setters.
He also reminds drivers about the new reckless driving law in Utah that took effect May 4. Anyone caught going over 105 mph can now be cited with an enhanced reckless driving charge, a class B misdemeanor, rather than an infraction like in the past. The fine for reckless driving is 150% higher than a normal fine, Roden noted.
Since May, 251 drivers have been cited under the new statute in Utah, according to the UHP.