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Most Dangerous Highways in Utah

Whether you’re navigating the crowded streets of Salt Lake City or traveling more remote, rural roads, driving in Utah can be dangerous. A recent report from the Utah Department of Public Safety shows that in just one recent year, more than 62,000 crashes occurred across the state, resulting in 25,645 injuries and 260 deaths.

Fortunately, most car accident victims survive their injuries, but survivors are often left with debilitating injuries and expensive medical bills. For many car accident survivors, getting the money needed to cover medical expenses, lost income, and other losses from the crash can be a significant challenge, especially with Utah’s no-fault insurance laws. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits may not be enough to cover everything they lost, and going outside the no-fault system can be challenging.

No matter where your collision occurred in Utah, contact the personal injury law firm of Swenson & Shelley right away for help. Our Utah car accident lawyers have offices throughout the state, from Salt Lake City to St. George, making it easy for us to provide the legal representation you need. We have more than three decades of combined experience, giving in-depth knowledge and familiarity with a wide range of personal injury cases.

If you have a case, we would be honored to represent you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

What Are Utah’s Most Dangerous Highways?

According to information from the Utah Department of Public Safety, there’s a notable distinction between where accidents are most likely to occur and how deadly they are. In terms of the overall number of accidents, the data shows that crashes occurred more often in urban areas, with roughly 2.2 crashes per million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in urban counties compared with about 1.1 crashes per million VMT in rural counties. The urban counties with the highest overall crash rates were Salt Lake County, Weber County, Cache County, and Utah County.

When it comes to fatal crashes, though, the trend is reversed. The information from the Utah Department of Public Safety indicates that rural counties had about 0.9 fatal crashes per 1 million VMT, while urban counties had a little less than 0.7 fatal crashes per 1 million VMT. This discrepancy makes more sense when you consider that while there may be more crashes in urban areas, cities have more police and medical resources than rural areas, so emergency responders can respond to accidents more quickly.

With all this in mind, there are a handful of highways in Utah where accidents tend to happen more often than others. The especially dangerous roads include:

  • Interstate 15 — I-15 is the primary north-south interstate highway in Utah. It runs south from the Idaho border north of Plymouth through Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo before ending just past St. George at the Arizona state line. Because I-15 passes through most of Utah’s major city centers, there’s a lot of heavy congestion, which tends to cause a number of accidents. There are also long rural stretches of Interstate 15 where drivers face risks from monotony, high speeds, adverse weather, and other hazards.
  • Interstate 70 — I-70 is one of two east-west interstate highways in Utah. It cuts roughly across the middle of the state, beginning at the Colorado border near Moab and continuing west until it ends by intersecting Interstate 15 outside of Sulphurdale. Much of I-70 runs through the remote parts of Utah, and unprepared motorists can get in trouble if they’re in an accident and become stranded. However, Interstate 70 is much busier near Moab and Arches National Park, which are major tourist destinations.
  • Interstate 80 — I-80 is the other east-west interstate highway in Utah. It begins in the state’s northeast corner at the Wyoming border and continues west until it exits Utah at the Nevada state line in Wendover. While part of Interstate 80 runs through the Salt Lake City area, much of it crosses extremely rural areas where few services are available to drivers involved in crashes.
  • S. Highway 6 — Though it’s a comparatively short highway, starting roughly outside Spanish Fork and ending near Helper, U.S. Highway 6 has earned a reputation for being one of the deadliest roads in the country, not just in Utah. A story from NPR says that from 1996 until 2009, more than 150 people died in accidents on this infamous road. Despite being a small and relatively rural road, U.S. Highway 6 connects Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, making it popular with truckers trying to get from Salt Lake City to Denver. The amount of truck traffic on the road, combined with the number of tight canyons it passes through, make U.S. Highway 6 extremely dangerous for drivers.
  • S. Highway 89 — Starting near Bear Lake at the Idaho state line, U.S. Highway 89 takes a long, winding route south through Utah until it ends just past Kanab at the Arizona border. Once it reaches Ogden, U.S. Highway 89 follows a roughly parallel course with Interstate 15 until it reaches Spanish Fork, at which point, it turns slightly east to continue through the middle of the state. Like Interstate 15, U.S. Highway 89 passes through several urban centers with heavy traffic congestion, making it dangerous for drivers. Also, like Interstate 15, there are lengthy rural stretches where services are hard to come by, placing drivers at greater risk of severe injury or death if an accident happens.
  • Moki Dugway Scenic Backway — The Moki Dugway Scenic Backway is an extremely remote stretch of road along Utah State Road 261. It’s located just northwest of the Valley of the Gods, which offers spectacular views of colorful sandstone formations. What makes the Moki Dugway so dangerous are its 10 percent grades and the fact that much of it is an unpaved gravel path. Drivers who don’t plan appropriately or take a large, heavy vehicle on the path can get stranded or collide with other cars on the narrow road.

Common Causes of Crashes on Utah’s Most Dangerous Roads

Some of the more common reasons drivers are hurt in accidents on Utah highways include:

  • Impaired driving — Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are much more likely to speed, drive aggressively, react slowly, drift out of their lane, and generally make poor decisions behind the wheel. All of these factors make an accident more likely. The Utah Department of Public Safety reported that in just one year, 51 people died from drunk driving accidents and another 94 people died in accidents in which a driver was impaired by drugs. In many rural areas, people are more likely to drive while impaired because they assume there’s less chance they’ll be caught or hit someone.
  • Speeding — Speeding is extremely common among Utah drivers, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the leading causes of car accidents statewide. Officials say more than 4,200 were injured, and 69 people died in speeding-related accidents in just one recent year. Speeding makes it harder for drivers to stay in control, increases stopping distances, and gives drivers less of a margin for error if they make a mistake. All of these factors make a crash more likely, and elevated speeds make injuries more severe when a collision does occur.
  • Distracted driving — Distracted driving accidents killed 18 people and caused more than 3,100 injuries in a single recent year, according to the Department of Public Safety. Drivers who are distracted have a more challenging time maintaining awareness of what’s happening around them, have slower reaction times, and may not realize the danger they’re in until it’s too late.
  • Aggressive driving — Following too closely, failing to yield the right-of-way, making sudden stops, weaving through traffic, and other aggressive driving behaviors can make a crash more likely.

What To Do if You’ve Been Hurt in a Crash

If you’re in a crash on a Utah highway, do your best to stay calm and take the following steps:

  • Call 911.If you’re in a remote area with no cell signal, try to flag down a passing motorist and ask for their assistance.
  • See a doctor as soon as you can. If you aren’t brought to a hospital, see your doctor immediately.
  • Follow your doctor’s prescribed treatments exactly as ordered, and hang on to your medical records and receipts.
  • Get the other driver’s information, including name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number.
  • Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident, the injuries you’ve suffered, and the broader crash area.
  • Don’t say anything to any insurance companies.
  • Talk to Utah car accident attorney.

Talk to a Lawyer Today

Navigating Utah’s no-fault insurance laws and getting the money you need after a car accident can be difficult, especially if you try to do it on your own. With help from the Utah car accident lawyers at the law firm Swenson & Shelley, you have a much stronger chance of recovering fair compensation for your injuries while you focus on healing.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Kevin Swenson was raised in Bountiful, Utah, and is a co-founding partner of Swenson & Shelley. After graduating from Bountiful High School, Kevin attended business school at Westminster College.