So far this year, there have been five fatal instances of wrong-way driving in Utah — one lower than last year’s final total of fatal instances.

That’s according to Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden, who talked to the Deseret News about why officials are concerned about wrong-way driving.

Early Thursday, a Riverton man was killed after allegedly driving the wrong way on I-15, according to a release from Utah’s Department of Public Safety. The truck collided with a bus carrying Army Reserve cadets. The driver of the bus received nonfatal injuries.

“This crash today is still under investigation,” Roden said. “There’s no immediate tie to impaired driving, but, of course, we will look at that through our investigation.”

During his monthly press conference, media asked Gov. Spencer Cox about the fatal crash. While the crash is still under investigation and does not currently have ties to impaired driving, Cox spoke about the importance of not drinking and driving.

“Every single fatality we’ve had so far, there has been impairment, either drugs, alcohol or both,” Cox said about previous instances of wrong-way driving.

Roden said that “a good majority of these crashes are impaired drivers.”

What to do if you see a wrong-way driver

Every situation with wrong-way driving is unique, Roden said, and added that “there’s not a lot of options that it leaves people with.”

“That’s why these situations often end in really serious and deadly consequences,” Roden said.

A matter of seconds could make a difference. Roden said it’s important to look at the road ahead, be alert and limit distractions, so that you have time to react to a wrong-way driver.

Roden also advised that if you see a wrong-way driver that you slow down as much as possible. “A lot of these crashes we are seeing happen toward the left-hand side of the road,” he said. “And so, if you see a wrong-way vehicle coming and can maneuver to the right, get over to the right and stop.”

“Each situation is so unique and independent,” Roden emphasized. “Some of these crashes are very violent and sudden.” Drivers sometimes do not have enough time to react due to this.

Since a lot of the crashes are related to impaired driving, Roden said the Utah Highway Patrol has met with stakeholders to mitigate the issue and are trying to increase awareness around impaired driving and wrong-way crashes.

“We need everybody’s assistance to work together on this issue and that way we can see some of these fatalities decrease, less crashes and save some lives.”

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What is Utah doing to decrease wrong-way crashes?

Cox added Utah is deploying technology to detect wrong-way drivers.

The Utah Department of Transportation said in a 2023 release that they installed 15 new systems statewide that year and they were in the process of adding eight more.

The wrong-way driver detection and alert system uses radar and high-definition cameras to track drivers, as well as high-intensity LED lights that alert the driver.

“If the vehicle continues going the wrong way, the system sends automated alerts to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center and the Utah Highway Patrol so the driver can be tracked and stopped as quickly as possible,” the release said.

When the system was tested in February 2023, it detected 23 wrong-way drivers and all of them turned around.

Overall in 2023, there were 22 wrong-way driving instances with six fatalities. Roden confirmed this number with the Deseret News.

In 2022, the Utah Department of Transportation said in a release there were eight wrong-way crashes, which resulted in the fatality of 10 people.