Utah traffic cameras show signs of slowing down as new data shows fewer traffic fatalities, and the state’s public health department says it’s hopeful the cameras will remain on track for the foreseeable future.
The state’s Department of Public Health said Wednesday that traffic cameras in Utah have recorded fewer traffic deaths in 2017 than in any year since 2013, when Utah became the first state in the nation to require mandatory photo radar, and that the number of people killed was down.
The number of crashes has been on the rise since last year, with the number in Utah’s capital city of Salt Lake City rising by more than 40 percent from last year.
The department’s data shows that Utah recorded only about 1,500 more traffic deaths last year than in 2017.
That’s a drop from 2,637 in 2016.
That drop in fatalities is the same as the national average of about 1.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, said Jennifer Miller, public health officer for the Utah Division of Traffic Safety.
Miller says the cameras’ ability to identify drivers in dangerous situations is important.
“We see them in our community and we see them on the streets,” Miller said.
The cameras have been on track to see a 10 percent increase in traffic deaths by 2021, when they’re expected to record about 10,000 fewer deaths than they did in 2017, Miller said in a statement.
Utah’s public safety department is reviewing whether the cameras are performing at the levels expected for the future, but Miller said the agency is “hopeful” they’ll stay on track.
The Utah Department of Transportation says the state has about 100,600 traffic cameras around the state.
It says that while the cameras have recorded more traffic fatalities than they have in recent years, that’s not a reflection of the statewide population growth, which is expected to continue to grow.
Miller said that despite the overall decrease in traffic fatalities over the past few years, the department’s traffic camera system still can’t keep pace with the changing demographics of the Utah population.
“If we continue to see that growth, we will not be able to maintain the level of surveillance we need to be able meet our traffic safety goals,” Miller added.
The data showed that the population in Utah grew from 4.5 million in 2013 to 5.9 million in 2021.
Utah also has about 7.6 million people over the age of 65, and a majority of the population is white, with a median age of 46.