Utah law enforcement is reporting an increase in wrong-way drivers after a fatal head-on crash occurred near Salt Lake City on March 12.
Unified Police Department Lieutenant Paul Barker said the crash occurred near the Kearns area on Mountain View Corridor and was the second head-on fatal crash in Salt Lake City that day.
“Unfortunately, tonight, somebody didn’t survive this accident,” Barker told KSL5.
Police say a silver Kia heading southbound drove when it hit a white Volkswagen head-on around 11:15 pm.
The driver of the Kia, identified as 29-year-old Michael Jordan, died at the scene.
The other accident that same day occurred on the I-15 and resulted in the deaths of both drivers.
The accidents are one of many head-on collisions due to what police are calling an “epidemic” of wrong-way drivers.
“There’s always that chance of something crazy happening of a wrong-way driver,” Barker said. “So, just, you got to be cautious, even if you completely have the right-of-way, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, accidents still occur.”
Police say a dozen more accidents have recently taken place on Interstate 15, Bangerter Highway, Mountain View and other highways or roads.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Battenfield advised drivers to be aware of what is in front of them at all times, as far as 10–15 seconds down the road.
“If you can see those headlights coming toward you, distance and time are the best things you have on your side,” Battenfield said.
UHP advised residents to call 9-1-1 if they see a wrong-way driver. Previously, a trooper was able to spin a wrong-way driver’s vehicle out of control to prevent it from causing a collision down the road.
“And at that point, I did what is called a wrong-way intercept and swerved my car back to the left into his vehicle,” Trooper Devin Henson said of the incident.
Police say wrong-way drivers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol — or they could be elderly.
“Some are elderly people who just got confused and got on the ramp the wrong way,” Battenfield said.
Police hope that by spreading awareness of the issue, less accidents will happen.
“They are preventable. We all just have to pay attention to our driving and where we’re going,” Battenfield said.