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Experts say buckle up, avoid distractions as deaths increase on Utah roadways

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Transportation is warning drivers to be more alert as fatalities are increasing on Utah roads in 2017.

According to UDOT, there have been 39 deaths on Utah roads so far in 2017. That total marks a 22% increase in deaths compared to the same time period in 2016

UDOT and the Zero Fatalities campaign are working to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, which can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

"Everyone is connected to their phones," said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman. "If you get an email, you get a phone call, you feel a need to respond to that right away."

Experts say it can wait, and your safety is more important than a prompt reply.  They are also focusing on buckling up.

"One of the biggest factors that we see is people not wearing their seat belts," Gleason said. "Already this year, 12 people have lost their lives as a result of not buckling up."

Click here for more information on the Zero Fatalities campaign.