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UDOT urges drivers, pedestrians to be aware as deaths at Utah intersections on the rise

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SALT LAKE CITY -- You may have noticed those UDOT signs on the highway, showing a count of 78 deaths at Utah Intersections in 2016.

Robert Miles, UDOT Director of Traffic and Safety, said that number has increased in recent years.

According to Zero Fatalities, 280 lives were lost in 2016 on Utah roads. Deaths at intersections specifically make up a little over a quarter of that total.

"This was an absolutely tragic event, not only for the victims, the victim’s families, but also for the drivers in these incidents also," said Lt. Brian Lohrke of the Unified Police Department. "They will have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

A recent fatality happened on 5400 South in Taylorsville. The man did not cross at an intersection, but police said that's another part of the problem.

“We’ve only got about two full months of data under our belt right now, but right now we do know that our fatalities are going up," Miles said. "We’ve had a particularly bad month of February and we’re concerned about that.”

UDOT said there have been at least six pedestrian deaths so far in 2017, which does not include other accidents at or near intersections, like ones that involve bikes, motorcycles and cars.

“We need to get those distractions away from us, whether it’s the radio, telephones, children in the car, anything else that could distract us from what we are supposed to be focusing on,” Lohrke said.

Miles said it's not about fault, it's about safety.

“We want to make sure that everybody’s understanding their responsibilities and that everybody’s taking it seriously, because if somebody does get hurt, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong: someone is hurt,” Miles said.

Time of day and weather conditions sometimes play a role, but UDOT said two-thirds of crashes happen between noon and 8 p.m. They said it's up to you to keep your eyes open and heads up.

Visit Zero Fatalities for more on the campaign's efforts to eliminate roadway deaths in Utah.