UHP joins multi-state effort to increase safety along I-80 this weekend

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By Lauren Steinbrecher

NORTHERN UTAH -- If you travel on Interstate 80 over the next few days, you might see extra cops on the road.

The Utah Highway Patrol is working with 16 other states to crack down on speeding and dangerous driving along the highway.

August may not see any holiday weekend driving, but the Utah Highway Patrol says it is the deadliest month when it comes to crashes. That’s why they’re implementing a program to up patrols, and cut down on fatalities.

"Mile marker 107, I-80 Eastbound,” Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Rob Nelson radios in to dispatch as he prepares to pull someone over on Thursday.

Trooper Nelson sparked the routine traffic stop on Interstate 80 after spotting a speeding driver.

Nelson anticipates he’ll be making a lot of stops like that in the next few days, because UHP is teaming up with its counterparts in 16 other states for a nationwide, I-80 traffic safety enforcement.

Two hundred extra UHP troopers will dot the Interstate from Friday to Sunday, looking out for speeders, impaired drivers and people not wearing seat belts.

Col. Danny Fuhr said August is the deadliest month when it comes to crashes.

"We've taken our data over the last many years and we asked ourselves, 'In August, over this weekend, where are most of our crashes occurring or where are most of the deaths occurring?'" he said.

Fuhr said from that, they pinpointed “hot spots”, or areas where they see the most crashes.

"It might be a curve, a certain curve on I-80, it might be on and off ramps on I-80,” he explained. “There's different factors, but those are the areas which are most problematic."

One of those hot spots is near mile marker 99, out to Lake Point Junction in Tooele County.

Troopers said the reasons they see so many crashes include distracted driving and people going too fast.

At a nearby gas station, truck drivers make a quick stop. Those truck drivers said they know how dangerous those hot spots can be.

“I’ve had people lose control, come across the median,” Driver Lewis Phillips said.

Dan Looper adds that he sees, “a lot of weaving, a lot of unsafe lane changes.”

Those drivers can force others to take evasive action.

“I move over in my lane, I’ll ride the shoulder,” driver Nicole Stewart said.

Troopers hope drivers won’t have to resort to that, because they’ll be out all weekend in an effort to make sure drivers stay safe.

The Utah Highway Patrol said they saw Zero Fatalities during the program last year and hope to keep that record going.

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