By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–They say that it isn’t the traffic you need to worry about, but the drivers behind the wheel or the cell phone in your hand.
In Cedar City, an otherwise routine trip to a grocery store on Main Street or to grab a hamburger at a local fast food restaurant might also land you in the hospital. In 2017, the data on traffic accidents continue to rise as holiday shopping trips kick in.
“There are times of the day [when it does], during high traffic volume,” said Cedar City Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jerry Womack of data. “And we know that there are stretches of road that (I would say) have a frequent incidence of accidents. So this can be a ‘Festival City’ with some risks behind the wheel.”
According to Womack, there are areas of dense population that drivers need to consider like the eight collisions (seven hit-and-run incidents) that officers responded to near 400 South and West of Main Street. “An increased number of accidents occur between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.,” adds Womack, “while accidents seem slower on Sundays and Mondays for some reason.”
Public safety experts say that a mix of distractions can be at the root of those accidents, from cell phones use or grabbing a quick hamburger, to changing a little dial on a stereo system. In fact, distracted drivers often involve moving out of one’s lane, tail-gating or just not paying attention to traffic flows, and are all part of the collision story.
While most accidents are just minor rear-end events where one driver applies the brakes and another doesn’t, others occur at busy intersections or on streets well known to police officers for ill-timed and oft times avoidable accidents.
In Cedar City, law enforcement generally point to two major thoroughfares: An intersection near Smith’s Marketplace and another (along Main Street) near Lin’s Fresh Food Market. But there are other roadways known for collision — up to 14 hit-and-runs reported in WalMart parking areas and up to 10 accidents at Cross Hollow Road and Providence Center, for example.
In a recently published report, public safety officials point to the road section that stretches from Main Street to Interstate 15 with more than 13 accidents (with injury) and five hit and runs.
“This stretch is one of the busiest,” said Womack. “Basically it is right around the college, so you have a lot of local traffic coming and going, with drivers attempting to turn left or across multiple lanes.”
In addition to the flow of resident traffic patterns, drivers will find students and tourists searching for freeway entrances along I-15.
A second, but equally, risky road is Main Street, North of Monterey to the North end of Cedar City. According to police data, 10 traffic accidents with damage exceeding $1,500 and 12 accidents with injury (3 hit and runs) were reported off Main Street.
In the Cove and Cedar Meadow neighborhoods, officers reported 8 traffic accidents (exceeding $ 1,500); 4 accidents with injuries and 7 hit and runs. Meanwhile, other traffic-accident areas were noted at the intersection of West University, next to the Beverly Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts on campus.
“We basically need drivers to put down their phones, stop tail-gating and slow down to avoid these accidents,” Womack said. On rural highways (or interstates) where the speed limit is 60 mph or more, the risk of serious injury or death increase considerably.
According to a recent news release by the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP), a two-car accident west of Cedar City on SR 56 that killed five people occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m.
“There are certain times of the day and night, or even days of the week, that drivers should keep in mind,” cites Womack of accidents. In short, it’s all about defensive driving, paying attention to the driver’s around you, and don’t underestimate the distractions. “Officers would like to see a lot less accidents.”
Caption: While speed-related accidents and distractions account for many serious-injury or fatal accidents on the I-15 corridor, residents should pay attention to local thoroughfares, or high volume traffic areas across Cedar City, that account for dozens of reported accidents.